knowledge; breast cancer; cancer genetics; family communication; genetic counseling; precision medicine; numeracy; health literacy.


Purpose: Knowledge of breast cancer genetics is critical for those at increased hereditary risk who must make decisions about breast cancer screening options. This descriptive study explored theory-based relationships among cognitive and emotional variables related to knowledge of breast cancer genetics in cancer families. Methods: Participants included first-degree relatives of women with breast cancer who had received genetic counseling and testing. Study participants themselves did not have breast cancer and had not received genetic counseling or testing. Data were collected by telephone interviews and surveys. Variables analyzed included numeracy, health literacy, cancer-related distress, age, education, and the reported amount of information shared by the participants’ family members about genetic counseling. Results: The multiple regression model explained 13.9% of variance in knowledge of breast cancer genetics (p = 0.03). Best fit of the multiple regression model included all variables except education. Reported amount of information shared was the only independently significant factor associated with knowledge (β=0.28, p = 0.01). Conclusion: Participants who reported higher levels of information shared by a family member about information learned during a genetic counseling session also demonstrated increased knowledge about breast cancer genetics.

Original Publication Citation

Himes, D. O., Davis, S. H., Lassetter, J. H., Peterson, N. E., Clayton, M. F., Birmingham, W. C., & Kinney, A. Y. (2019). Does family communication matter? Exploring knowledge of breast cancer genetics in cancer families. Journal of Community Genetics, 1-7. doi:10.1007/s12687-019-00413-y

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Springer Nature





University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor