Assessing genetic counselor communication in response to virtual, asynchronous simulated video prompts

Chenery Lowe, Michael Setzer, Debra L. Roter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Online methods of teaching and assessing communication skills meet not only the need for remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic but also future demand for flexible training methods. This study aimed to explore the utility of standardized video prompts intended to elicit samples of genetic counselors’ (GCs’) interpersonal, psychosocial, and counseling skills by describing variation in GCs’ socioemotional communication during their responses to a series of videotaped communication challenges. We analyzed the previously recorded communication of 43 GCs responding to a set of videotaped simulated client prompts related to a cancer or prenatal counseling session. We applied the Roter Interaction Analysis System to the prompts and GCs' responses, focusing on the proportion of socioemotional content as an indicator of interpersonal, psychosocial, and counseling skill use. We analyzed the responses of 21 GCs to the cancer prompts and 22 GCs to the prenatal prompts. Two-sample t tests explored differences in the proportion of socioemotional content in GCs’ responses to prompts within and across the two scenarios. Overall, socioemotional statements accounted for 31% (SD = 8%) of all GC statements in response to the prenatal prompts and 36% (SD = 9%) of statements in response to the cancer prompts (Bonferroni-adjusted p=.49). The proportion of socioemotional communication in individual prompt responses varied from 4% (SD = 12%) to 76% (SD = 26%) across the cancer prompt series and 10% (SD = 13%) to 76% (SD = 30%) across the prenatal prompt series. Across the two scenarios, two of 10 matched prompts showed significant differences in the proportion of GCs’ socioemotional content of the prompt responses (p's < 0.001). These differences appear related to differences in the socioemotional nature of the prompts. These findings inform online methods of communication assessment that are useful during restrictions to in-person learning due to COVID-19, as well as future hybrid training and research efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-432
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • RIAS
  • communication
  • communication assessment
  • education
  • genetic counseling
  • simulated video prompts
  • video prompts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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