Are genetic counselors and GLBT patients "on the same page"? An investigation of attitudes, practices, and genetic counseling experiences

Heather Dean Glessner, Erin Van Den Langenberg, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Bonnie S. Le Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) individuals comprise a growing patient population in genetic counseling, yet literature on working with this population is scarce. This study sought to investigate GLBT patient experiences in genetic counseling and genetic counselor attitudes and practices when counseling GLBT patients. Twenty-nine GLB individuals who had previously participated in genetic counseling, and 213 genetic counselors completed online surveys. No individuals identifying as transgender participated. The patient survey assessed disclosure of orientation, discrimination in genetic counseling, and quality of services received. The counselor survey assessed comfort with and attitudes about counseling GLBT patients, disclosure of counselor orientation, and whether they counsel differently with this population. Every patient denied experiencing discrimination during their session, but 17% reported their genetic counselor assumed they were heterosexual, and 45% indicated intake forms were not GLBT-inclusive. A majority of counselors (91%) reported having counseled GLBT patients and indicated they were comfortable doing so (86%), and 72% indicated no differences in their counseling approaches with GLBT patients. Few counselors (17%) received training in GLBT issues, and most (61%) desired such education. Additional findings and practice and research recommendations are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Bisexual
  • Discrimination
  • Gay
  • Genetic counseling
  • Lesbian
  • Orientation
  • Self-disclosure
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender (GLBT) patients

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