Health care professionals’ attitudes towards population-based genetic testing and risk-stratification for ovarian cancer: a cross-sectional survey

Katie Hann, Lindsay Fraser, Lucy Side, Sue Gessler, Jo Waller, Saskia C Sanderson, Madeleine Freeman, Ian Jacobs, Anne Lanceley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed at a late stage when outcomes are poor. Personalised ovarian cancer risk prediction, based on genetic and epidemiological information and risk stratified management in adult women couldimprove outcomes. Examining health care professionals’(HCP) attitudes to ovarian cancer risk stratified management, willingness to support women, self-efficacy (belief in one’s own ability to successfully complete a task), and knowledge about ovarian cancer will help identify training needs in anticipation of personalised ovarian cancer risk prediction being introduced.Methods: An anonymous survey was distributed online to HCPs via relevant professional organisations in the UK. Kruskal-Wallis tests and pairwise comparisons were used to compare knowledge and self-efficacy scores between different types of HCPs, and attitudes toward population-based genetic testing and risk stratified management were described. Content analysis was undertaken of free text responses concerning HCPs willingness to discuss risk management options with women.Results: One hundred forty-six eligible HCPs completed the survey: oncologists (31%); genetics clinicians (30%); general practitioners (22%); gynaecologists (10%); nurses (4%); and ‘others’. Scores for knowledge of ovarian cancer and genetics, and self-efficacy in conducting a cancer risk consultation were generally high but significantly lower for general practitioners compared to genetics clinicians, oncologists, and gynaecologists. Support for population-based genetic testing was not high (<50%). Attitudes towards ovarian cancer risk stratification were mixed, although the majority of participants indicated a willingness to discuss management options with patients.Conclusions: Larger samples are required to investigate attitudes to population-based genetic testing for ovarian cancer risk and to establish why some HCPs are hesitant to offer testing to all adult female patients. If ovarian cancer risk assessment using genetic testing and non-genetic information including epidemiological information is rolled out on a population basis, training will be needed for HCPs in primary care to enable them to provide appropriate support to women at each stage of the process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number132
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2017

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