(HealthDay News) — The psychosocial outcomes of telephone genetic counseling are noninferior to standard in-person genetic counseling for BRCA1/2 gene testing, according to research published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Marc D. Schwartz, PhD, of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and colleagues randomly assigned women, aged 21 to 85 years, who did not have newly diagnosed or metastatic cancer, to telephone counseling (n=335) or usual care (n=334). The researchers sought to determine whether telephone counseling was noninferior to in-person counseling for BRCA1/2 gene testing.

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The researchers found that, at 2 weeks after pretest counseling, telephone counseling was noninferior to usual care for all primary outcomes, including knowledge, perceived stress, satisfaction, decision conflict, and cancer distress. 

Telephone counseling was not equivalent to usual care for the uptake of BRCA1/2 testing. Per patient, telephone counseling cost $114 less per patient than usual care.

“It is time to embrace telephone genetic counseling as a legitimate and effective way to increase patient access to genetic counseling services,” wrote the author of an accompanying editorial.

Several researchers disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or biomedical companies.


  1. Schwartz MD, Valdimarsdottir HB, Peshkin BN, et al. Randomized Noninferiority Trial of Telephone Versus In-Person Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2014;doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.51.3226.
  2. Madlensky L. Is It Time to Embrace Telephone Genetic Counseling in the Oncology Setting? J Clin Oncol. 2014;doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.53.8975.