Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Genetic Counseling

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

S. Shahrukh Hashmi, MD, MPH, PhD

Committee Member

Sarah H. Elsea, PhD

Committee Member

Claire N. Singletary, MS, CGC

Committee Member

Alix D’Angelo, MGC, CGC

Committee Member

Joanne Nguyen, MD

Committee Member

Myla Ashfaq, MS, CGC


Historically, medical photographs are used to demonstrate dysmorphic features and characteristic presentations of genetic conditions. Traditional, pictorial depictions of genetic conditions typically involve nude subjects against walls to emphasize their features. These stark, black and white photographs may negatively influence students’ perceptions of the depicted individual. Natural photographs which include individuals in non-clinical environments may impact perceptions. To assess the influence of photographs on a viewer’s perception, 649 students from medical, nursing, genetic counseling and dental programs were surveyed in a cross-over study. Students were randomized to view a traditional or a natural photograph of three distinct genetic conditions followed by a natural or a traditional photograph, respectively, of the same conditions. Perceptions of the individual and their quality of life were assessed using Likert scale and yes/no adjective-association questions. Affected individuals were more often associated with positive characteristics (e.g. beautiful, respectful, intelligence, higher quality of life, etc.) when presented in natural settings and negative characteristics (e.g. degrading, institutionalized, humiliating, neglected, etc.) when depicted in traditional photographs (p


medical photographs, textbook photographs, perceptions, quality of life, healthcare education, medical education