The role of numeracy on client knowledge in BRCA genetic counseling.

Author(s): Portnoy DB,  Roter D,  Erby LH

Journal: Patient Educ Couns

Date: 2010 Oct

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): CPFP

PubMed ID: 19854023

PMC ID: PMC2891310

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of numeracy and health literacy on client's ability to learn information orally communicated during a BRCA 1/2 genetic counseling session. METHODS: Fifty-nine videotaped simulated genetic counseling sessions were shown to 246 analogue clients (AC) recruited to imagine themselves as the client in the genetic counseling session. AC numeracy, genetic literacy, state and trait anxiety, and decisional conflict were assessed. The primary outcome was AC learning about BRCA 1/2. RESULTS: Health literacy and numeracy were moderately correlated, and each independently predicted learning. Higher numeracy was associated with higher knowledge scores only among ACs with adequate literacy. Decisional conflict was not related to literacy, numeracy, or knowledge acquisition. It was, however, inversely related to state anxiety so that the higher post-session state anxiety, the lower the AC's decisional conflict. CONCLUSION: Numeracy and health literacy are associated with learning of orally communicated information during genetic counseling. It appears that numeracy can facilitate learning for literate subjects; it does not, however, make any difference in learning ability of clients with significant literacy deficits. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Numeracy plays an important role in client's ability to learn information communicated during medical sessions, especially among clients who are otherwise regarded as literate.