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Eur J Hum Genet. 2015 Nov;23(11):1462-7. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2015.10. Epub 2015 Feb 4.

A group approach to genetic counselling of cardiomyopathy patients: satisfaction and psychological outcomes sufficient for further implementation.

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Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.
Department of Health Psychology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.


The introduction of next-generation sequencing in everyday clinical genetics practise is increasing the number of genetic disorders that can be confirmed at DNA-level, and consequently increases the possibilities for cascade screening. This leads to a greater need for genetic counselling, whereas the number of professionals available to provide this is limited. We therefore piloted group genetic counselling for symptomatic cardiomyopathy patients at regional hospitals, to assess whether this could be an acceptable alternative to individual counselling. We performed a cohort study with pre- and post-counselling patient measurements using questionnaires, supplemented with evaluations of the group counselling format by the professionals involved. Patients from eight regional hospitals in the northern part of the Netherlands were included. Questionnaires comprised patient characteristics, psychological measures (personal perceived control (PPC), state and trait anxiety inventory (STAI)), and satisfaction with counsellors, counselling content and design. In total, 82 patients (mean age 57.5 year) attended one of 13 group sessions. Median PPC and STAI scores showed significantly higher control and lower anxiety after the counselling. Patients reported they were satisfied with the counsellors, and almost 75% of patients were satisfied with the group counselling. Regional professionals were also, overall, satisfied with the group sessions. The genetics professionals were less satisfied, mainly because of their perceived large time investment and less-than-expected group interaction. Hence, a group approach to cardiogenetic counselling is feasible, accessible, and psychologically effective, and could be one possible approach to counselling the increasing patient numbers in cardiogenetics.

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