Genetic education for primary care providers: improving attitudes, knowledge, and confidence. Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To increase primary care providers' awareness and use of genetic services; increase their knowledge of genetic issues; increase their confidence in core genetic competencies; change their attitudes toward genetic testing for hereditary diseases; and increase their confidence as primary care genetic resources. DESIGN: Participants completed a workshop and 3 questionnaires: a baseline questionnaire, a survey that provided immediate feedback on the workshop itself, and a follow-up questionnaire 6 months later. SETTING: Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: Primary care providers suggested by deans of nursing, midwifery, family medicine, and obstetric programs, as well as coordinators of nurse practitioner programs, in Ontario and by the Ontario College of Family Physicians. INTERVENTION: A complex educational intervention was developed, including an interactive workshop and PowerPoint educational modules on genetic topics for participants' use (available at MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Awareness and use of genetic services, knowledge of genetics, confidence in core clinical genetic skills, attitudes toward genetic testing, and teaching activities related to genetics. RESULTS: The workshop was attended by 29 participants; of those, 21 completed the baseline questionnaire and the 6-month follow-up questionnaire. There was no significant change found in awareness or reported use of genetic services. There was significant improvement in self-assessed knowledge of (P = .001) and confidence in (P = .005) skills related to adult-onset genetic disorders. There were significant increases in confidence in many core genetic competencies, including assessing risk of hereditary disorders (P = .033), deciding who should be offered referral for genetic counseling (P = .003), discussing prenatal testing options (P = .034), discussing benefits, risks, and limitations of genetic testing (P = .033), and describing what to expect at a genetic counseling session (P = .022). There was a significant increase in the number of primary care providers agreeing that genetic testing was beneficial in the management of adult-onset diseases (P = .031) and in their confidence in being primary care genetic resources for adult-onset genetic disorders (P = .006). CONCLUSION: Educational interventions that include interactive peer resource workshops and educational modules can increase knowledge of and confidence in the core competencies needed for the delivery of genetic services in primary care.


  • Carroll, June C
  • Rideout, Andrea L
  • Wilson, Brenda J
  • Allanson, Judith Md
  • Blaine, Sean M
  • Esplen, Mary Jane
  • Farrell, Sandra A
  • Graham, Gail E
  • MacKenzie, Jennifer
  • Meschino, Wendy
  • Miller, Fiona
  • Prakash, Preeti
  • Shuman, Cheryl
  • Summers, Anne
  • Taylor, Sherry

publication date

  • December 2009