In this study, we apply an existing medical communication coding system to BRCA1 genetic counseling sessions, describe the session dynamics, and explore variation in session communication. The sample was comprised of 167 members of an identified BRCA1 kindred whose pretest counseling session was audiotaped and coded using Roter's Interaction Analysis System (RIAS). Three certified genetic counselors followed a research protocol that dictated areas to be covered in the counseling session. We found that it was feasible to code long, protocol driven BRCA1 sessions in a quantitative manner without the use of transcripts and capture the dialogue of all session participants. These findings support the use of RIAS in genetic counseling research. Our results indicate that these BRCA1 sessions were predominantly educational in nature with minimal dialogue devoted to psychosocial issues. We found that participant gender, presence of a client companion, and counselor identity influence session communication.
- Roter Interaction Analysis System
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