In order to promote ongoing quality improvement of not only the Penn State Cancer Genetics Program, but also other cancer risk assessment programs throughout the country, we developed, piloted and conducted a survey to explore patient expectations, experiences, and satisfaction with the cancer genetic counseling process. The comprehensive survey was mailed to 340 eligible patients, 156 (45.9%) of whom returned the completed survey within the allotted time. Responses to closed-ended questions were tallied and open-ended questions were content analyzed. Major findings show that: (1) Patients were seeking cancer-related information and support throughout the cancer risk assessment process and were interested in participating in available research studies; (2) The setting in which patients are seen for cancer risk assessment may pose potential emotional ramifications; (3) Misperceptions regarding insurance discrimination and lack of insurance coverage persist; (4) Patients view the genetic counselor as responsible for updating them about new discoveries. Specific recommendations for cancer genetics programs are included.
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