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Author Notes:



Research Funding:

Research reported in this publication was supported in part by the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and NIH/NCI and the Winship Cancer Institute/Davidson College Impact Fellowship under award number P30CA138292. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


  • Science & Technology
  • Social Sciences
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Oncology
  • Education, Scientific Disciplines
  • Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
  • Education & Educational Research
  • Somatic
  • Genetic
  • Genetic testing
  • Genetic counseling
  • Molecular testing
  • Tumor profiling
  • Tumor sequencing
  • Video

The Impact of Genetic Counseling Educational Tools on Patients' Knowledge of Molecular Testing Terminology


Journal Title:



Volume 35, Number 5


, Pages 864-870

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Molecular testing is increasingly being integrated into cancer management. Despite rapid advancements, little work has been done to explore strategies for communicating with patients undergoing molecular tumor testing. This study evaluated the impact of genetic counseling educational tools on improving patients’ understanding of key terms related to molecular testing. A genetic counseling intern designed a picture book to explain six words found in prior research to be difficult to understand (mutation, germline mutation, somatic mutation, biomarker, molecular testing, and targeted therapy). Participants who had previously discussed molecular testing with their oncologist were asked to define the terms. The same participants then received an explanation of each term either from the intern using the picture book in person or from a video presentation of the picture book. They were then asked to redefine each term afterward. The difference between the number of terms defined correctly pre- and post-intervention was compared between presentations. Sixty-three patients with melanoma, colon, lung, or breast cancer were recruited. After both interventions, correct understanding rates improved for all six terms, with significant improvement for germline mutation (p < 0.001), somatic mutation (p < 0.001), biomarker (p < 0.001), and molecular testing (p < 0.001). Understanding of targeted therapy improved significantly (p = 0.011) for the video presentation only. Mean change in knowledge scores did not differ between the two interventions (intern presentation 3.2 vs. video 2.9, p = 0.428). Our data suggest that genetic counseling educational tools can increase patient understanding of terms used to describe molecular testing.
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