Demand for cancer genetic counseling has grown rapidly in recent years as germline genomic information has become increasingly incorporated into cancer care, and the field has entered the public consciousness through high-profile celebrity publications. Increased demand and existing variability in the availability of trained cancer genetics clinicians place a priority on developing and evaluating alternate service delivery models for genetic counseling. This mini-review summarizes the state of science regarding service delivery models, such as telephone counseling, telegenetics, and group counseling. Research on comparative effectiveness of these models in traditional individual, in-person genetic counseling has been promising for improving access to care in a manner acceptable to patients. Yet, it has not fully evaluated the short- and long-term patient- and system-level outcomes that will help answer the question of whether these models achieve the same beneficial psychosocial and behavioral outcomes as traditional cancer genetic counseling. We propose a research agenda focused on comparative effectiveness of available service delivery models and how to match models to patients and practice settings. Only through this rigorous research can clinicians and systems find the optimal balance of clinical quality, ready and secure access to care, and financial sustainability. Such research will be integral to achieving the promise of genomic medicine in oncology.
Keywords: access; cancer; comparative effectiveness; genetic counseling; telemedicine.