Using adult learning theory concepts to address barriers to cancer genetic risk assessment in the African American community

Jeff Kendall, Colleen Kendall, Zohra Ali-Khan Catts, Cristi Radford, Kimberly Dasch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Utilization of cancer genetic risk assessment can be profoundly influenced by an individuals' knowledge of risk assessment, attitudes regarding illness and healthcare, and affective reactions derived from social norms. Race and ethnicity play a powerful role in the development of an individual's attitudes and should be considered when attempting to understand a person's openness to cancer genetic risk assessment (Lannin et al., 1998). Until recently, however, cancer screening and prevention programs have been primarily based on data from studies conducted with the Caucasian population, yielding data that are not fully applicable to the African American community. In the last several years, research findings regarding African American's knowledge, attitudes, and feelings about genetic counseling and testing have grown (Matthews et al., 2000; Singer et al., 2004; Thompson et al., 2003). However, to the authors' knowledge, these data have yet to be presented in a manner that both summarizes the barriers that African Americans have reported regarding cancer genetic risk assessment, while at the same time suggesting methods individual genetic counselors can utilize during community presentations to help address these barriers. This article will first summarize previous empirical findings regarding African Americans' knowledge, attitudes, and feelings about cancer genetic risk assessment. The article will then apply adult learning theory to those findings to provide genetic counselors with practical, theory based techniques to apply toward community based educational programs with African American groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Adult learning theory
  • African Americans
  • Cancer genetic risk assessment
  • Community education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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