Risk Perception Among Women at Risk for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Pilarski, Robert
August 2009
Journal of Genetic Counseling;Aug2009, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p303
Academic Journal
This paper is a summation of selected history and literature on risk perception as it pertains to genetic counseling and testing, with a focus on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, the area which has seen the greatest focus of research. Risk perception is a complex and incompletely understood concept which seeks to capture the myriad meanings that an individual attaches to the experience of being at increased risk. It is now evident that “risk”, as perceived by the patient, is different from the objective, quantifiable risk estimate often provided to them during genetic counseling. What is also clear is that the complicated set of factors influencing risk perception are not yet well understood, nor are the mechanisms the lead from perceived risk to behavioral change in the patient. In situations where specific behavioral changes such as increased cancer screening are an inherent goal of the genetic risk assessment and counseling process, gaining a better understanding of the specific factors motivating change will be essential.


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