J Community Genet. 2018 Nov 14. doi: 10.1007/s12687-018-0393-1. [Epub ahead of print]
Uncertainty related to multigene panel testing for cancer: a qualitative study on counsellors' and counselees' views.
Multigene panel testing is mainly used to improve identification of genetic causes in families with characteristics fitting multiple possible cancer syndromes. This technique may yield uncertainty, for example when variants of unknown significance are identified. This study explores counsellors' and counselees' experiences with uncertainty, and how they discuss uncertainties and decide about multigene panel testing. Six focus groups were conducted including 38 counsellors. Twelve counselees who had received genetic counselling about a multigene panel test were interviewed. The focus group sessions and interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed inductively by two independent coders and data were examined to obtain a comprehensive list of themes. Counsellors identified several uncertainties, e.g. finding a variant of unknown significance, or detecting an unsolicited finding. Most difficulty was experienced in deciding what uncertain information to communicate to counselees and how to do so. The extent and manner of providing uncertain information differed between centres and between counsellors. Counsellors attached more value to counselees' preferences in decision making compared to less extended tests. Counselees experienced difficulty in recalling which uncertainties had been discussed during genetic counselling. They primarily reported to have experienced uncertainty about their own and their relatives' risk of developing cancer. Counselees felt they had had a say in the decision. This study showed that counsellors need more guidance on whether and how to convey uncertainty. Undesirable practice variation in the communication of uncertainty may be prevented by determining what information should minimally be discussed to enable informed decision making.
Experiences; Focus groups; Genetic counselling; Interviews; Multigene panel testing; Uncertainty