An investigation of genetic counselors' discussions of genetic discrimination with cancer risk patients

Nicole L. Pfeffer, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Twenty-five genetic counselors who see familial cancer risk patients were interviewed about their definitions of genetic discrimination, perceptions of patient risk for discrimination, frequency and type of discrimination experienced by their patients, sources of information about discrimination, and what they tell patients about genetic discrimination. There was variability in participant definitions and content of discussions of genetic discrimination. Although 82% regarded risk to be low to theoretical, 40% reported possible instances of genetic discrimination, including insurance companies requiring results to cover procedures, denial of life/health insurance, social discrimination, and employment discrimination. Ninety-six percent of the sample reported always or almost always discussing genetic discrimination, and one or more of the following: insurance discrimination risks, protective legislation, no known cases positively documenting discrimination, strategies to avoid discrimination, and uncertainty of protective measures. The majority use current literature and research as information sources. Practice, policy, and research implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-438
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Cancer risk patients
  • Genetic counselor perceptions
  • Genetic discrimination


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