Why Patients Should Request a Genetic Counselor for Screening

Over the past few decades, genomics has become a critical component of modern medical care. Today, doctors are increasingly conducting a myriad of genetic tests and screenings for diagnosis purposes. Unfortunately, despite the explosive growth in genetic screening, there is still a lack of expertise for interpreting the tests. Thus, genetic counsellors are in demand, given that genetic testing and genetic risk information play a critical role in modern healthcare. This article highlights reasons to ask for a genetic counsellor before and after the genetic screening.

Act as Genetic Liaisons -- Genetic screening provides healthcare providers with useful insight. In most cases, labs give genetic testing results to patients and expect them to seek further advice from a doctor or a physician. Unfortunately, most patients are often tempted to look at the results, although they do not understand the information. Consequently, it promotes self-diagnosis, which is the last thing a patient should do. To avoid self-diagnosis, counsellors act as liaisons between a patient and their doctor since they have the expertise to translate genetic screening data. Additionally, a genetic counsellor receives screening results from a lab on behalf of a patient, saving time on interpretation.

Promote Personalised Healthcare -- Genetic screenings can reveal a myriad of genetic conditions that a patient is predisposed to. Therefore, personalised care is of utmost importance for healthcare providers to help patients overcome specific conditions. Since genetic counsellors specialise in interpreting complex genetic information and counselling, they can relay relevant screening or treatment recommendations to a patient's doctor. It ensures that patients receive personalised healthcare for appropriate treatment and management.

Psychosocial Counseling -- Unlike other healthcare data, genetic information results affect a patient and their parents, children, and extended family. Sadly, doctors and other healthcare providers lack time to help patients and their families cope with the psychosocial implications of genetic screening results. It often results in misinformation; therefore, patients and their families are forced to guess the impact of screening results. It is the reason genetic counsellors are essential members of the healthcare team. Their expertise in counselling means that they understand how to take good care of a patient's psychological well-being and family members. For example, suppose a pregnant mother's screening results reveal that the unborn baby is predisposed to sickle-cell anemia. In that case, a genetic counsellor will advise other family members to go for genetic screening. It will help other family members understand the extent of their predisposition to the sickle-cell disorder. 

To learn more, contact a resource that provides genetic screenings.