Supporting genetics in primary care: investigating how theory can inform professional education

Brenda J Wilson, Rafat Islam, Jill J Francis, Jeremy M Grimshaw, Joanne A Permaul, Judith E Allanson, Sean Blaine, Ian D Graham, Wendy S Meschino, Craig R Ramsay, June C Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Evidence indicates that many barriers exist to the integration of genetic case finding into primary care. We conducted an exploratory study of the determinants of three specific behaviours related to using breast cancer genetics referral guidelines effectively: 'taking a family history', 'making a risk assessment', and 'making a referral decision'. We developed vignettes of primary care consultations with hypothetical patients, representing a wide range of genetic risk for which different referral decisions would be appropriate. We used the Theory of Planned Behavior to develop a survey instrument to capture data on behavioural intention and its predictors (attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioural control) for each of the three behaviours and mailed it to a sample of Canadian family physicians. We used correlation and regression analyses to explore the relationships between predictor and dependent variables. The response rate was 96/125 (77%). The predictor variables explained 38-83% of the variance in intention across the three behaviours. Family physicians' intentions were lower for 'making a risk assessment' (perceived as the most difficult) than for the other two behaviours. We illustrate how understanding psychological factors salient to behaviour can be used to tailor professional educational interventions; for example, considering the approach of behavioural rehearsal to improve confidence in skills (perceived behavioural control), or vicarious reinforcement as where participants are sceptical that genetics is consistent with their role (subjective norm).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1541-1546
Number of pages6
JournalEJHG : European journal of human genetics : the official journal of the European Society of Human Genetics.
Issue number11
Early online date22 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


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