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Exploring genetic counselors' perspectives in assessing mental health and suicide risk in the pediatric setting.

Noska, Glenna (2023) Exploring genetic counselors' perspectives in assessing mental health and suicide risk in the pediatric setting. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Introduction: In the United States, suicide rates have steadily increased over time in those aged 10-to-24. Risk factors for youth suicide include mental health conditions, chronic illnesses, and certain life-limiting conditions. Pediatric genetic counselors (GCs) work with patients aged 0-to-18 and may serve at-risk patients. No studies have examined whether pediatric GCs routinely assess mental health concerns or suicide risk during a genetic counseling session. It is also unknown whether personal or institutional barriers exist in this setting, limiting a GC's ability to assess at-risk youth. The study aimed to determine pediatric GC practices and perspectives regarding routinely assessing mental health and suicide risk and to identify perceived barriers and training GCs have received.
Methods: I created an anonymous online survey through Qualtrics XM that comprised multiple-choice questions, including some fill-in-the-blank answer choices. The survey was advertised on social media and sent via an email invitation to GCs through the National Society of Genetic Counseling (NSGC) listserv.
Results: There were 34 board-certified pediatric GCs that responded. Not every respondent answered each question. Half of the respondents do not assess suicide risk, and half sometimes assess mental health. Half believe GCs should assess suicide, primarily when indicated. Most respondents indicated that GCs should assess mental health at every session. The top reason respondents do not assess mental health or suicide risk is a lack of understanding of best practices for assessing mental health or suicide risk in the pediatric setting.
Conclusions: The results suggest that GCs do not routinely assess mental health and suicide risk during pediatric genetic counseling sessions. GCs also need education on best practices for mental health and suicide risk assessment for this setting. Most respondents indicated that GCs should assess mental health at every session, while only half reported that GC should assess suicide. More research on this topic is needed, and limitations of the study exist, including small sample size. The study has public health significance because GCs may be able to identify youth at risk. With the increasing rates of youth suicide, GCs need to consider taking more preventative action.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Noska, Glennagln8@pitt.edugln8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGrubs, Robin E.rgrubs@pitt.edurgrubs
Committee MemberFeingold, Eleanorfeingold@pitt.edufeingold
Committee MemberFelter, Elizabethemfelter@pitt.eduemfelter
Committee MemberAcquaro,
Date: 28 June 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 June 2023
Approval Date: 28 June 2023
Submission Date: 14 June 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 104
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: youth suicide, youth mental health, pediatrics, genetic counselors, screening, behavioral health
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2023 14:59
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2023 14:59


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