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Healthcare Providers' Perspectives on Genetic Counselors

Galea, Lucy Maree Eleanor (2023) Healthcare Providers' Perspectives on Genetic Counselors. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: As the genetic counseling profession expands, it is increasingly important for healthcare providers to understand genetic counselors’ scope of practice, and their role in patient care and within the multidisciplinary team. Little is currently known about the level of knowledge healthcare providers have about genetic counselors’ scope of practice, role, and skill set. This study aims to address this gap in the literature.
Methods: Healthcare providers in direct patient care roles at UPMC Magee Womens Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh were surveyed through a twenty-question survey that covered scope of practice, facilitation of patient care, reasons for referring patients for genetic counseling and the demographics of the respondents. For the second part of the study providers were interviewed to further explore these areas. At the end of the survey, respondents could opt into a thirty-minute interview. The survey results were analyzed by Fisher’s exact test, and the interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Forty-nine surveys were utilized for data analysis, and two interviews were conducted with three total participants. Providers had a good understanding of genetic counselors’ scope of practice and were significantly more likely to know the degree held by a genetic counselor if they themselves had a medical degree (p-value: 0.004). However, providers did not have a clear understanding of whether Pennsylvanian genetic counselors are permitted by their licensure to order genetic testing. Most respondents referred frequently to genetic counselors, with 68% referring at least monthly.
Interview participants reported high levels of positive regard for genetic counselors and their understanding of scope of practice was dependent on the interactions they had with genetic counselors.
Conclusion: This study shows that providers in Pennsylvania need to be educated about Pennsylvanian genetic counselor scope of practice, particularly the provision related to who can serve as the ordering provider of genetic testing. This research is critical to understanding how genetic counselors are viewed by healthcare providers and is significant for public health as a referral to a genetic counselor is often part of the appropriate application of many national guidelines for individuals with genetic conditions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Galea, Lucy Maree Eleanorlug22@pitt.edulug22
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSkinner,
Committee MemberVento,
Committee MemberGrubs,
Committee MemberSalter, Cynthiacys6@pitt.educys6
Date: 9 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 April 2023
Approval Date: 9 May 2023
Submission Date: 26 April 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 99
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Genetic Counseling
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Genetic counselor scope of practice Referral rates Facilitation of care
Date Deposited: 10 May 2023 02:56
Last Modified: 10 May 2023 02:56


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