The Role of Knowledge on Genetic Counseling and Testing in Black Cancer Survivors at Increased Risk of Carrying a BRCA1/2 Mutation

J Genet Couns. 2017 Feb;26(1):113-121. doi: 10.1007/s10897-016-9986-1. Epub 2016 Jul 12.


Genetic counseling and testing (GCT) for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers (HBOC) can inform treatment decisions in survivors. Black women at risk of HBOC have lower GCT engagement. There is limited data about Black survivors' experiences. The goals of this study were to: 1) examine the factors associated with HBOC knowledge and 2) assess the impact of knowledge on GCT engagement in a sample of Black survivors at risk of HBOC. Fifty Black at-risk breast/ovarian cancer survivors participated in a telephone-based survey. GCT use was measured across a continuum (awareness, referral, and use). The primary predictor variable was HBOC knowledge. Other clinical, socio-demographic, and psychosocial variables were included. Multiple linear and ordinal regression models (knowledge as the outcome and GCT as the outcome) assessed the predictors of knowledge and GCT engagement. Less than half (48 %) of survivors were referred to or used GCT services. Knowledge was moderate (M = 7.78, SD = 1.61). In the multivariable analysis, lower age (β = -.34, p = .01) and lower stage (β = -.318, p = .017) were associated with higher knowledge. Higher knowledge (β = .567, p = .006) and higher self-efficacy (β = .406, p = .001) were significantly associated with GCT engagement. Future interventions directed at increasing knowledge, self-efficacy, and improving the referral process are warranted.

Keywords: BRCA1/2 genetic counseling and testing; Black women; Breast cancer; Psychosocial factors; Survivors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / education
  • African Americans / psychology
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • United States