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J Genet Couns. 1997 Sep;6(3):269-86. doi: 10.1023/A:1025624221369.

"Talking About Chance": The Presentation of Risk Information During Genetic Counseling for Breast and Ovarian Cancer.

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Center for Family Research, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF, U.K.


Using observations, questionnaires, and interviews, this study describes the formats used to present risk information during genetic counseling for breast and ovarian cancer. Counselees' preferences for different types of qualitative and quantitative presentation formats are also discussed. The data indicate that there is considerable variation in the presentation of risk information both within and between consultations. The counselees were positive about the way the counselors had described their risk. Seventy-three percent of the sample expressed a preference for risk to be described using quantitative formats, and there was little difference in the number who stated a preference for percentages, proportions, or population comparisons. Comparing preferred formats with those used in the consultations indicated that in over 40% of cases, risk information was not presented in the counselees' preferred quantitative format. This descriptive study raises questions about the presentation of risk information which warrant further research.


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