Geneticists boost practice knowledge

GPs need to be supported by specialist genetics services to help improve the way genetic concepts are communicated to patients, UK research has revealed.

A pilot study, trialled in Nottingham, found that the use of genetic counsellors had a positive impact with all of the GPs involved in the study recommending the use of genetic counsellors nationwide.

It has been acknowledged that clinical genetic services will not be able to cope with demand.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Executive pledged an extra £10 million pounds for genetics in primary care.

The DoH has said that GPs will have an expanding role to play in relation to genetic issues.
For the study, tailored genetic educational outreach was delivered by a genetic counsellor to 10 randomly selected practices in Central England for 12 months.

A range of genetic services was provided by the counsellor, including genetic update sessions, an advice service to help explain genetic risk to couples expecting a child, which may include cystic fibrosis, and referral guidelines for familial breast and ovarian cancer.

The service provided by the counsellor was then evaluated using pre and post intervention questionnaires and via seven structured interviews.

All of the 38 GPs involved in the study were very positive about the genetic counsellor. All felt that they had gained knowledge and confidence.

A number of GPs added that by talking part in the study, limitations and gaps in their current knowledge of genetics had been identified.

The survey was published in the Journal of Genetic Counseling Online 2007.

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