A qualitative study of barriers to genetic counseling and potential for mobile technology education among women with ovarian cancer

Hered Cancer Clin Pract. 2018 Jul 4;16:13. doi: 10.1186/s13053-018-0095-z. eCollection 2018.


Background: National guidelines recommend genetic counseling for all ovarian cancer patients because up to 20% of ovarian cancers are thought to be due to hereditary cancer syndromes and effective cancer screening and prevention options exist for at-risk family members. Despite these recommendations, uptake of genetic counselling and testing is low. The goal of this study was to identify barriers to and motivators for receipt of genetic counseling along with preferences regarding potential use of a mobile application to promote genetic counseling.

Methods: Three focus groups were conducted including 14 women with a diagnosis of epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer. Topics included understanding of genetic counseling, perceived pros and cons, preferences for receiving health information, and familiarity with mobile phone technology. Transcripts were analyzed using standard procedures of qualitative thematic text analysis and descriptive coding techniques.

Results: Six major themes regarding barriers to and motivators of genetic counseling and use of mobile technology in promoting genetic counseling emerged: (1) need for information, (2) relevance, (3) emotional concerns, (4) family concerns, (5) practical concerns, and (6) mobile application considerations.

Conclusions: These data reiterate previously reported barriers to genetic counseling as observed in other populations. Participants were supportive of the use of mobile technology for promoting uptake of genetic counseling.

Keywords: Barriers; Familial Cancer; Genetic counseling; Hereditary Cancer; Knowledge; Mobile health; Mobile technology; Ovarian cancer; mHealth.