The Life Course Perspective: a Guide for Genetic Counselors

J Genet Couns. 2016 Feb;25(1):44-8. doi: 10.1007/s10897-015-9878-9. Epub 2015 Aug 27.


This is the first article in a two part series about utilizing the life course perspective (LCP) in genetic counseling. LCP can be a useful tool for genetic counselors when counseling people with a known genetic mutation. Previous theories such as Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) and Common Sense Model of Self-Regulation (CSMSR) examine current reactions to a positive genetic test result. LCP extends beyond the current time to explore temporal and contextual elements of the experience. A review of research revealed, LCP has been used to study the perspective of caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease, referral for a family history of breast cancer, Mexican American caregivers of older adult, social class and cancer incidence and cancer and the sense of mastery. Incorporating LCP into a study explaining the experiences of people living with a positive test result for a genetic mutation such as the BRCA mutation provides a comprehensive exploration of this experience.

Keywords: Life course perspective; Longitudinal study; Qualitative research; Theory development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / methods*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Humans