Use and Impact of Visual Aids on Communication Dynamics During Genetic Counseling Sessions
WILCZEWSKI-THESIS-2020.pdf (2.394Mb) (embargoed until: 2022-12-01)
Wilczewski, Caralynn M
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The integration of genetics and genomics in medical care has increased the need for skilled communicators who can facilitate patient understanding and utilization of this complex information. Genetic counselors (GCs) help bridge this gap by engaging patients to achieve aims of patient understanding, decision-making, coping and adaptation in relation to genetic risk and conditions. While visual aids have been used in genetic counseling sessions to illustrate and explain complex biomedical concepts inherent in these conversations, we lack an understanding of how frequently GCs use visual aids in practice and how their use affects interpersonal communication during these sessions. The purpose of this study is to examine the frequency and consequences of visual aid use on genetic counselor-client communication in genetic counseling sessions. To address this question, 137 video recorded and transcribed simulated prenatal and cancer genetic counseling sessions that were collected as part of the Genetic Counseling Video Project were observed for visual aid use and associations between use and communication behaviors, oral literacy demand, and client and provider satisfaction. Visual aids were widely used in prenatal and cancer sessions, although use differed between the specialties. Patient-centered communication was negatively associated with visual aid use, and an increase in genetic terminology was noted in cancer sessions with the highest visual aid use. Visual aid use was not clearly associated with differences in simulated client or genetic counselor satisfaction. Hand drawing and hand gesturing were also noted as modes of visual communication. This research suggests that visual aid use may affect certain aspects of patient-provider communication in previously unrecognized ways that providers should be aware of as they incorporate these educational tools into their practices.
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