Reciprocal Relationships: the Genetic Counselor-Patient Relationship Following a Life-Limiting Prenatal Diagnosis

S. R. Williams, K. L. Berrier, Krista A Redlinger-Grosse, J. G. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Utilizing the tenet, “Relationship is integral to the genetic counseling process” from the Reciprocal Engagement Model (REM) of genetic counseling practice, this study sought to explore the relationship between the genetic counselor and patient following a “life-limiting” prenatal diagnosis that resulted in a major loss (termination, stillbirth/miscarriage, or neonatal death). The specific aims of this study were to: 1) Understand and describe aspects of the genetic counselor-patient relationship in the context of the life-limiting prenatal diagnosis, and identify characteristics and actions of the 2) genetic counselor and 3) patient that influence the relationship. Genetic counselor (GC) participants were recruited via a web-based survey distributed by NSGC and the NSGC Prenatal SIG. Eligible GCs maintained a relationship with a patient beyond the prenatal diagnosis and had a willing patient participant. Individual 60-min audio-recorded telephone interviews were conducted with eight GC and 8 respective patients (n = 16) using parallel interview guides (n = 16). Transcriptions underwent thematic content analysis for systematic coding and identification of emergent themes. The GC-patient relationship was characterized by the evolution of communication and promoted by the supportive needs of the patient, the nature of the diagnosis, and characteristics and supportive actions of the participants. This exploratory study highlights the unique service of support offered by genetic counselors in the context of a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-354
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc.


  • Genetic counseling
  • Lethal
  • Life-limiting
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Reciprocal-engagement model
  • Relationship
  • Rem


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