"What would you do if you were me?" Effects of counselor self-disclosure versus non-disclosure in a hypothetical genetic counseling session

Amy L. Paine, Patricia M Veach, Ian M. MacFarlane, Brittany Thomas, Mary Ahrens, Bonnie S LeRoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two prior studies suggest genetic counselors self-disclose primarily because patients ask them to do so (Peters et al., 2004; Thomas et al., 2006). However, scant research has investigated effects of counselor disclosure on genetic counseling processes and outcomes. In this study, 151 students (98 undergraduates, 53 graduates) completed one of three surveys describing a hypothetical genetic counseling session in which a patient at risk for FAP was considering whether to pursue testing or surveillance procedures. Dialogue was identical in all surveys, except for a final response to the question: "What would you do if you were me?" The counselor either revealed what she would do (Personal Disclosure), what other patients have done (Professional Disclosure), or deflected the question (No Disclosure). Imagining themselves as the patient, participants wrote a response to the counselor and indicated their perceptions of her. Participants rated the non-disclosing counselor significantly lower in social attractiveness than either disclosing counselor, and less satisfying than the professional disclosing counselor. Analysis of written responses yielded four themes: Made Decision, Sought Information, Expressed Thoughts/Feelings, and No Decision. Practice implications and research recommendations are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-584
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

Keywords

  • Counselor self-disclosure
  • Decision-making
  • Genetic counseling
  • Genetic counseling process
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Self-disclosure

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