A qualitative study on decision-making about BRCA1/2 testing in Italian women

Linda Battistuzzi, Marzena Franiuk, Nadine Kasparian, Nadia Rania, Laura Migliorini, Liliana Varesco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: In the era of cancer panel testing, new models of genetic counselling providing effective decision-making support are needed. As little is known about Southern European patients’ and families’ needs and experiences in this regard, we explored Italian women's experiences of clinical BRCA1/2 counselling and testing. Methods: We interviewed 19 Italian women with a strong family history but no personal history of cancer who had had clinical BRCA1/2 testing. Interviews were recorded and transcribed, and qualitative data were organised into themes. Results: Most respondents had decided to pursue testing before pre-test counselling. Although half the sample reported having reached the decision without thinking through its implications, most participants qualified their choice as unequivocally “the right one.”. Conclusion: A subset of Italian women may arrive at their first cancer genetic consultation having already made a firm decision about testing. To empower women's decision-making, new models of cancer genetic counselling could usefully take into account differences in how they approach the testing process. This includes understanding decision-making from different cultural perspectives. In familistic countries like Italy, for example, decisional support may involve exploring widely shared assumptions regarding responsibilities towards family members and the prioritisation of family over self.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13083
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019


  • BRCA1/2
  • culture
  • decision-making
  • ethics
  • genetic counseling
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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