Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Genetic Counseling

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Sarah Jane Noblin, MS, CGC

Committee Member

Carrie Cameron, PhD

Committee Member

Jennifer Czerwinski, MS, CGC

Committee Member

Hector Mendez-Figueroa, MD

Committee Member

Susan K. Peterson, PhD, MPH

Abstract

From 2000-2010, the Asian population in the United States grew five times faster than the overall US population. As Asians become incorporated into the US health care system, it is important to recognize cultural differences that may arise between Asian patients and their health care providers. Prior studies show that cultural values influence genetic perceptions within Asian populations. The reputation of the family unit factors into decisions such as pregnancy termination and disclosure of family medical history, and the non-directive model of American genetic counseling conflicts with the historical Asian model of paternalistic health care. Previous studies also provide conflicting evidence regarding correlations between education, acculturation, age, and awareness and perceptions of genetic testing. Recognizing the heterogeneity of the Asian population with regards to acculturation, education, health awareness, and cultural values is vital for tailoring culturally sensitive and appropriate care. The aims of this study were to describe attitudes towards prenatal genetics among Southeast and East Asian women and to explore sociocultural factors influencing those attitudes. 23 Asian women who were members of Asian cultural organizations in the US were interviewed via telephone about their attitudes towards prenatal genetic counseling, prenatal genetic testing, and termination of pregnancy. Responses were transcribed and coded for common themes using a grounded theory approach. Five major themes emerged. Participants had diverse expectations for genetic counselors with regards to emotional support and non-directiveness. Attitudes towards genetic testing and pregnancy termination varied widely and were influenced primarily by religious and spiritual beliefs, risk-benefit analysis, and cultural factors including societal stigma of disabilities, availability of resources, and family authority. These findings may allow prenatal genetic counselors to gain a richer, more nuanced understanding of their Asian patients and to offer culturally tailored genetic counseling.

Keywords

prenatal genetics, Asian, attitudes, qualitative, pregnancy termination, genetic testing, genetic counseling

Available for download on Friday, April 28, 2017

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