Genetic Counseling Service Delivery Models in the United States: Assessment of changes in use from 2010 to 2017

J Genet Couns. 2020 Dec;29(6):1126-1141. doi: 10.1002/jgc4.1265. Epub 2020 Apr 21.


In 2010, the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) membership was surveyed about their use of genetic counseling service delivery models (SDMs) including in-person, telephone, telegenetics, and group genetic counseling. Since that time, the demand for genetic counseling services has increased in the United States (US). We hypothesized that the use of various SDMs has increased to help address the growing demand. To assess for changes in SDM use and interest in implementing innovative SDMs, the NSGC SDM subcommittee sent an electronic survey to the NSGC membership (N = 3,616), which was open from August 2017 to December 2017. Descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis were used to compare and identify differences in SDM utilization between 2010 and 2017. There were 590 total responses (16.3% response rate) with 517 usable responses, representing multiple genetic counseling specialties. Compared to 2010, significantly fewer respondents indicated they 'always' provide services in-person in 2017 (p < .04, df = 4), with 92.6% of respondents reporting 'always' or 'often' utilizing in-person SDM in 2017. Telephone genetic counseling was reported by 12.5% as a model used always or often, compared to 8% in 2010; however, the shift toward or away from telephone genetic counseling since 2010 was not statistically significant (p = .27, df = 4). The number of respondents using telegenetics always or often increased from 2.3% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2017, and more respondents report using telegenetics at an increased frequency (p < .01, df = 4). In contrast, those reporting use of a group genetic counseling SDM always or often decreased from 3.0% to 1.4%, though there was not a significant shift toward or away the frequency of respondents using group genetic counseling (p = .21, df = 4). Almost all respondents (93%) were interested in implementing an additional and/or different SDM; however, many (74%) identified barriers to implementation. There was an increase in those reporting use of 3 or 4 SDMs in practice since 2010 (p < .02). Genetic counselors may be attempting to compensate for longer wait times by implementing additional SDMs to improve access for patients. There is strong interest in learning about and implementing innovative SDMs to improve access and efficiency. However, resources need to be developed to help genetic counselors identify and overcome implementation barriers to achieve these goals.

Keywords: genetic counseling; group counseling; service delivery models; telegenetics; telemedicine; telephone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / organization & administration*
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Organizational Innovation*
  • United States