Prevalence and correlates of mothers and fathers attending pretest cancer genetic counseling together

Tiffani A. DeMarco, Rachel H. Nusbaum, Beth N. Peshkin, Andrea F. Patenaude, Katherine A. Schneider, Judy E. Garber, Heiddis B. Valdimarsdottir, Kenneth P. Tercyak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine the prevalence of fathers' attendance at pretest cancer genetic counseling sessions with mothers undergoing BRCA1/2 genetic testing for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer (HBOC) risk, and to identify psychosocial and other correlates of fathers' attendance. Methods: One hundred and twenty-one fathers of minor-age children who were spouses/partners of women (mothers) undergoing such counseling and testing were recruited, completed a behavioral self-report survey, and provided data about their sociodemographic backgrounds, father-child cancer communication histories, parenting relationship quality, and information-seeking and perceived knowledge. Results: A total of 27.3% of fathers attended pretest cancer genetic counseling with mothers. Compared to fathers who did not attend pretest cancer genetic counseling, those who did had stronger parenting alliances with mothers, were more likely to have sought out information about BRCA1/2 testing, and felt more informed about testing. In an adjusted logistic regression model of session attendance, the strength of the parenting alliance was associated with a 6% increase in the likelihood of attending genetic counseling (odds ratio [OR] = 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01, 1.12, p < .05) and greater perceived knowledge about BRCA1/2 testing was associated with a four-fold increase in the likelihood of session attendance (OR = 4.03, CI = 1.77, 9.37, p < .001). Conclusion: One in three fathers attend pretest cancer genetic counseling with mothers undergoing BRCA1/2 testing; those who do have closer parenting relationships and are more informed about BRCA1/2 testing. Practice implications: When possible, providers should discuss mothers including fathers in cancer genetic counseling sessions as this may affect outcomes of HBOC genetic counseling and testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-33
Number of pages5
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute (HG002686) and National Cancer Institute (CA091831) to Dr. Tercyak with additional support from the Jess and Mildred Fisher Center for Familial Cancer Research at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Other keywords

  • BRCA1/2 testing
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer
  • Genetic counseling
  • Parents


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