The Genetic Counseling Video Project (GCVP): Models of practice

D. Roter, L. Ellington, L. Hamby Erby, S. Larson, W. Dudley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Genetic counseling is conceptualized as having both "teaching" and "counseling" functions; however, little is known about how these functions are articulated in routine practice. This study addresses the question by documenting, on videotape, the practices of a national sample of prenatal and cancer genetic counselors (GCs) providing routine pre-test counseling to simulated clients (SCs). One hundred and seventy-seven GCs recruited at two annual conferences of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) were randomly assigned to counsel one of six female SCs of varying ethnicity, with or without a spouse, in their specialty. One hundred and fifty-two videotapes were coded with the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS) and both GCs and SCs completed evaluative questionnaires. Two teaching and two counseling patterns of practice emerged from cluster analysis. The teaching patterns included: (1) clinical teaching (31%) characterized by low psychosocial, emotional and facilitative talk, high levels of clinical exchange, and high verbal dominance; and (2) psycho-educational teaching (27%) characterized by high levels of both clinical and psychosocial exchange, low levels of emotional and facilitative talk, and higher verbal dominance. The counseling patterns included: (1) supportive counseling (33%) characterized by low psychosocial and clinical exchange, high levels of emotional and facilitative talk, and low verbal dominance; and (2) psychosocial counseling (9%) with high emotional and facilitative talk, low clinical and high psychosocial exchange, and the lowest verbal dominance. SCs ratings of satisfaction with communication, the counselor's affective demeanor, and the counselor's use of non-verbal skills were highest for the counseling model sessions. Both the teaching and counseling models seem to be represented in routine practice and predict variation in client satisfaction, affective demeanor, and nonverbal effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 2006


  • Client-counselor communication
  • Genetic counseling models
  • Genetic counseling outcomes
  • Simulated patient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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