Decision aids for female BRCA mutation carriers: a scoping review

BMJ Open. 2024 Jun 13;14(6):e076876. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-076876.


Objectives: Women who inherit a pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation are at substantially higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer than average. Several cancer risk management strategies exist to address this increased risk. Decisions about which strategies to choose are complex, personal and multifactorial for these women. Decision aids (DAs) are tools that assist patients in making health-related decisions. The aim of this scoping review was to map evidence relating to the development and testing of patient DAs for cancer unaffected BRCA mutation carriers.

Design: Scoping review conducted according to the Joanna Briggs Institute's (JBI's) scoping review methodological framework.

Data sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science. No restrictions applied for language or publication date. A manual search was also performed.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: Studies on DAs for cancer risk management designed for or applicable to women with a pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who are unaffected by breast or ovarian cancer.

Data extraction and synthesis: Data were extracted using a form based on the JBI instrument for extracting details of studies' characteristics and results. Data extraction was performed independently by two reviewers. Extracted data were tabulated.

Results: 32 evidence sources relating to development or testing of 21 DAs were included. Four DAs were developed exclusively for cancer unaffected BRCA mutation carriers. Of these, two covered all guideline recommended risk management strategies for this population though only one of these was readily available publicly in its full version. All studies investigating DA effectiveness reported a positive effect of the DA under investigation on at least one of the outcomes evaluated, however only six DAs were tested in randomised controlled trials.

Conclusion: This scoping review has mapped the landscape of the literature relating to developing and testing, DAs applicable to cancer unaffected BRCA mutation carriers.

Keywords: cancer genetics; decision making; nursing care; patient-centered care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics


  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • BRCA1 Protein