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Referral to cancer genetic counseling: do migrant status and patients’ educational background matter?

Giessen, J.A.M. van der, Riel, E. van, Veldhuizen, M.E., Dulmen, A.M. van, Ausems, M.G.E.M. Referral to cancer genetic counseling: do migrant status and patients’ educational background matter? Journal of Community Genetics: 2017, 8(4), 303-310
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Participation rates in cancer genetic counseling differ among populations, as patients with a lower educational background and migrant patients seem to have poorer access to it.

Objective
We conducted a study to determine the present-day educational level and migrant status of counselees referred to cancer genetic counseling. We assessed personal characteristics and demographics of 731 newly referred counselees. Descriptive statistics were used to describe these characteristics.

Results
The results show that about 40% of the counselees had a high educational level and 89% were Dutch natives. Compared to the Dutch population, we found a significant difference in educational level (p = < 0.01) and migrant status (p = < 0.001). This suggests disparities in cancer genetic counseling and as a result of that, suboptimal care for vulnerable groups. Limited health literacy is likely to pose a particular challenge to cancer genetic counseling for counselees with a lower education or a migrant background.

Our study points to considerable scope for improvement in referring vulnerable groups of patients for cancer genetic counseling. (aut. ref.)