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The Educational Needs and Professional Roles of Canadian Physicians and Nurses regarding Genetic Testing and Adult Onset Hereditary Disease

Bottorff J.L.a · Blaine S.b,c · Carroll J.C.b,c · Esplen M.J.d · Evans J.e · Nicolson Klimek M.L.f · Meschino W.g · Ritvo P.h
aSchool of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver; bMount Sinai Hospital Family Medicine Genetics Program, Toronto; cDepartment of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto; dFaculties of Nursing and Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto; eDepartment of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg; fMovement Disorders Clinic, Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary; gGenetics Program, North York General Hospital, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto; hDepartment of Public Health Sciences, Family and Community Medicine and Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada Community Genet 2005;8:80–87 (DOI:10.1159/000084775)


Objective: To investigate the knowledge, professional involvement and confidence of Canadian nurses and physicians in providing genetic services for adult onset hereditary disease. Methods: 1,425 physicians and 1,425 nurses received a mailed questionnaire with reminders. The response rates were 50% (n = 543) and 79% (n = 975), respectively. Results: Forty-eight percent of physicians and 31% of nurses lacked formal education in genetics. Respondents reported being involved in caring for people at risk for adult onset hereditary disease. Their levels of confidence that they could perform tasks, such as counselling about predictive genetic tests, however, were lower than their levels of expectation that it would be important for them to provide these services. Conclusions: The expected roles and educational needs of Canadian nurses and physicians have broad areas of overlap suggesting the possibility of combined professional education programs and multiple ways of organizing teams to provide genetic services to people at risk for adult onset hereditary disease.


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