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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Predictors of Patient Attendance for Follow-Up Cancer Genetic Counseling Appointments

  • Author(s): Spiewak, Jessica Elin
  • Advisor(s): Smith, Moyra
  • et al.

Medical providers often interact with and provide care for their patients over the course of several visits. In the cancer genetic counseling setting, many patients choose to have genetic testing for mutations that confer a heritable predisposition for cancer. Follow-up genetic counseling is integral for disclosing genetic testing results and discussing the patient’s cancer screening regimen and recommendations for at-risk family members in the context of genetic testing results. Previous research has revealed the barriers to an initial cancer genetic counseling visit and uptake of genetic testing, but less is known about patients who miss follow-up visits. This retrospective chart review compared demographic factors, aspects of patients’ medical history, family cancer history, and information covered during genetic counseling for patients who had an initial cancer genetic counseling visit in 2016-2017 and attended their scheduled follow-up visit to those who missed their follow-up visit. Patient sex, ethnicity, age, personal cancer history, initial visit referral indication, type of genetic testing ordered, and proportion of first and second-degree relatives affected with cancer did not differ between patients who attended and patients who missed their testing results disclosure visit. However, female patients who had biological children were statistically more likely to attend their follow-up appointment compared to childless women, and this trend was present but not statistically significant for men who had children compared to childless men. Identifying predictors of follow-up visit patient attendance highlights the need for alternate delivery methods in genetic counseling, such as written materials, and video or telephone counseling.

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