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The Emotional States Associated with Reproductive Decision-making in Women with a BRCA Pathogenic Variant

Skrovanek, Elizabeth (2021) The Emotional States Associated with Reproductive Decision-making in Women with a BRCA Pathogenic Variant. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Women who inherit a BRCA pathogenic variant are 6 times more likely to develop breast cancer and 4 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer over the course of their lifetime. These are devastating statistics for women who are told this, as carrying this mutation can have a significant impact on family planning decisions in these women who are of reproductive age. Since the primary preventative measures include risk-reducing surgery that can render women infertile, the psychological and physiological consequences can be overwhelming since cancer risk reduction must be balanced with family planning. The aim of this study was to explore the role of emotional states on reproductive decision-making in women with a known BRCA pathogenic variant.

Methods: This exploratory, descriptive study included women with a BRCA pathogenic variant recruited from a familial cancer registry. Data were collected via a validated questionnaire to measure emotional states, familial cancer registry records and medical records. Logistic regression was performed to assess the relationship between emotional states, BRCA pathogenic variant status and individual factors on reproductive decision-making. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sample of women.

Results: 85 women completed data collection. There were no significant interactions between emotional states and reproductive decision-making. Age at genetic testing and number of children were significant for predicting being finished having children. Women who had a female relative with ovarian cancer reported higher loss/benefit scores.

Conclusions: Women who are older, and already have children are more likely to be finished having children. Having a relative with ovarian cancer is associated with higher scores of loss/benefit when assessing probability of being finished having children. Future research should identify women newly tested and follow them longitudinally to understand how emotional states change over time and identify vulnerable phases in the reproductive decision-making trajectory.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Skrovanek, Elizabetheas103@pitt.edueas1030000-0002-9674-3102
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWesmiller, Susanswe100@pitt.eduswe100
Committee CoChairBender, Catherinecbe100@pitt.educbe100
Committee MemberDunbar-Jacob, Jacquelinedunbar@pitt.edudunbar
Committee MemberMai,
Committee MemberSereika, Susanssereika@pitt.edussereika
Date: 12 January 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 23 November 2020
Approval Date: 12 January 2021
Submission Date: 10 January 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 173
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Nursing > Nursing
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: decision-making, reproductive health, genetics, BRCA
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 15:05
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2021 15:05


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