Psychosocial impact of proactive rapid genetic counseling following breast cancer diagnosis

Rachel Kritzik, Edidiong Usoro, Beth N. Peshkin, Claudine Isaacs, Heiddis B. Valdimarsdottir, Shawna Willey, Suzanne O’Neill, Tiffani DeMarco, Rachel Nusbaum, Lina Jandorf, Sarah Kelleher, Marc D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: As germline genetic referral becomes increasingly routine as part of the care of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, it is important to understand the psychosocial impact of genetic counseling at the time of diagnosis. We examined the psychosocial and quality of life (QOL) impact of providing proactive rapid genetic counseling and testing (RGCT) in the immediate aftermath of a breast cancer diagnosis. Methods: We randomized 330 patients in a 2:1 ratio to proactive rapid genetic counseling (RGCT; N = 222) versus usual care (UC; N = 108). Participants completed a baseline telephone survey before randomization and definitive surgery and a follow-up survey at 1-month post-randomization. We evaluated the impact of RGCT versus UC on breast cancer genetic knowledge, distress, QOL, and decisional conflict. Given that 43% of UC participants and 86% of RGCT participants completed genetic counseling prior to the 1-month assessment, we also evaluated the impact of genetic counseling participation over and above group assignment. Results: The RGCT intervention led to increased breast cancer genetic knowledge relative to UC but did not differentially impact other study outcomes. Across groups patients who participated in genetic counseling had significantly increased knowledge and improved QOL compared to those who did not participate in genetic counseling. Conclusions: While prior research has documented the impact of genetic counseling and testing on surgical decisions, these results confirm that participation in genetic counseling at the time of diagnosis can yield improvements in knowledge and QOL in the short-term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-797
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • BRCA1
  • BRCA2
  • breast cancer
  • genetic counseling
  • psycho-oncology
  • quality of life


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