Cancer genetics: consultants' perceptions of their roles, confidence and satisfaction with knowledge

Siobhan McCann, Domhnall MacAuley, Yvonne Barnett, Brendan Bunting, Aoife Bradley, Lisa Jeffers, Patrick J. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale, aims and objectives Genetic testing for susceptibility for common cancers is widely available. Cancer specialists and specialists in other areas may have a role in identifying and referring patients who would benefit from a consultation with a specialist in genetics. This study aimed to find out which consultants believed that genetic testing was relevant to their practice. We also wanted to determine their views of their roles in relation to genetic testing, their confidence in these roles, and the value of different educational tools. Methods This was a self-completed, cross-sectional, postal survey of all the consultants in Northern Ireland (n = 520, response rate = 59.3%) identified from the Central Services Agency list. Results Three hundred and ninety questionnaires were returned (44%). A total of 28.6% did not complete the questionnaire stating that genetics was not relevant to their practice. Few consultants reported having consultations related to genetic disease, receiving training in genetics and referring to genetics services. There was some dissatisfaction with their current knowledge of genetics and they believed that guidelines and educational tools may be useful. The respondents lacked confidence in undertaking some of their roles. Through their responses to the cancer scenarios, these consultants showed that they would offer appropriate advice and referrals. Many consultants did not know if family history information should be provided to insurance companies. Conclusions Some consultants may require further training to enable them to fulfil their roles in relation to genetics. Tools or guidelines to assist with referral decisions may also be useful. Consultants may need clearer guidance regarding the provision of family history information to insurance companies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-286
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Apr 2007


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