Publication date: Apr 09, 2020
In the era of precision medicine, patients must manage the uncertainty caused by ambiguous genetic information. To aid health practitioners in effectively communicating genetic information, this study classified the types of uncertainty involved in these communication processes. A search of recent literature turned up 64 articles that measured and/or discussed patients’ perceptions and/or feelings of uncertainty related to the communication process of cancer-related genetic information. In reviewing these papers, six types of uncertainty regarding cancer-related genetic information were identified: (1) uncertainty about understanding genetic information (n = 25; 39.1%); (2) uncertainty about future cancer risks (n = 34; 53.1%); (3) uncertainty about managing known genetic information or mutation status (n = 33; 51.6%); (4) uncertainty about the utility of genetic information (n = 5; 7.8%); (5) uncertainty about genetic test results before undergoing testing or receiving the results (n = 10; 15.6%); and (6) uncertainty about the impact of genetic results on family and life (n = 11; 17.2%). These six types of uncertainty serve as a helpful taxonomy for developing, validating, and utilizing future measures of uncertainty in the context of cancer-related genetic risk communication.