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Time Studies of the Tasks Associated with Comprehensive Cancer Genetics Counseling

Brandie Heald and Charis Eng

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A Time Study of Cancer Genetic Counselors Using a Genetic Counselor-Only Patient Care Model Versus a Traditional Combined Genetic Counselor Plus Medical Geneticist Care Model

Brandie Heald, Shanna Gustafson, Jessica Mester, Patricia Arscott, Katherine Lynch, Jessica Moline, and Charis Eng

Analyses of time-based effort have determined that clinical genetic services are labor-intensive, although these data derive primarily from studying geneticists’ efforts in the pediatric model. No studies have investigated the time and patient care activities of cancer genetic counselors (GCs) in traditional clinics with a medical geneticist (GC/MD) compared with genetic counselor-only (GCO) appointments. In this study, 6 GCs prospectively tracked time spent in patient care activities in both clinical settings. The authors found that overall, GCs’ time spent per patient was lower for GCO versus GC/MD visits. No differences were seen in time spent on results disclosure, but differences were noted in case preparation, face-to-face, and follow-up times. Furthermore, no differences were seen in number of case preparation activities or topics covered during a session. These data suggest that GCO visits result in better use of GCs’ time, without a trade-off in number of patient-related activities.