Counselor-counselee interaction in reproductive genetic counseling: Does a pregnancy in the counselee make a difference?

C.M. Aalfs, F.J. Oort, H.C. de Haes, N.J. Leschot, E. Smets

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the influence of a pregnancy and other counselee characteristics on several aspects of counselor-counselee interaction during the initial clinical genetic consultation. METHODS: The consultations, of a group of pregnant women (n = 82) and of a control group of non-pregnant women (n = 58), were compared specifically with regard to differences in global affective tone, extent of psychosocial exchange and women's participation in the decision-making process. Consultations were recorded, and subsequently coded from audiotape by 10 raters. RESULTS: Only two differences in outcome measures were found between the two study groups: the counselor was rated as slightly more nervous in consultations with pregnant women, and in consultations with non-pregnant women fewer decisions were taken. The length of the consultation, the contribution of a counselee's companion to the consultation and counselee characteristics (age, level of education, initiation of referral, affected person, degree of worry and preferred participation in decision-making) were more important in explaining the nature of the interaction. CONCLUSION: Our study yielded no important differences in counselor-counselee interaction during the initial clinical genetic consultation of pregnant versus non-pregnant women regarding the affective tone of the consultation, the degree to which psychosocial issues were discussed and the women's participation in the decision-making process. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Our findings suggest that a negatively affected counselor-counselee interaction is not an important disadvantage in consultations with pregnant women. Given the limitations of our study, however, we advocate further studies on counselor-counselee interaction in reproductive genetic counseling, in order to improve the quality of reproductive genetic counseling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-90
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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