A survey of genetic and palliative care health professionals' views of integrating genetics into palliative care


Genetic counselling and testing have utility for people with palliative care needs and their families. However, genetic and palliative care health professionals have described difficulties initiating palliative-genetic discussions. Between March and July 2022, we received n = 73 surveys (6% response rate) from genetic and palliative care health professionals in Australia and New Zealand that assessed and compared barriers and facilitators. The main perceived barrier to both groups was palliative care health professionals' lack of genetic knowledge (44%). Most palliative care health professionals were 'not at all confident' performing several activities, including discussing DNA banking (52%) and knowing their legal responsibilities when sharing genetic information (58%). The most frequently selected facilitator for genetic health professionals was fostering close relationships with palliative care health professionals (52%), while palliative care health professionals indicated a genetic referral template (51%) would be of assistance. Almost all participants agreed genetic discussions do not undermine the central ethos of palliative care (87%). Fewer palliative care health professionals considered themselves well situated to have genetic discussions with a palliative patient's family compared to genetic health professionals (p = 0.014). Our results suggest that genetic and palliative care health professionals support integrating genetics into palliative care, although refinement of the palliative care health professionals' role in this process is required. We have identified intervention targets to overcome barriers related to knowledge and confidence, which ought to be integrated into future interventions designed to support health professionals deliver the benefits of genetic information to people with palliative care needs and their families.

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