Status of abortion curriculum in genetic counseling: Survey of graduate programs and recent graduates in the United States

Gina Sanchez, S. Shahrukh Hashmi, Erica Bednar, Sarah Horvath, Bhavik Kumar, Katelynn Sagaser, Claire N. Singletary, Aarti Ramdaney

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Genetic counselors (GCs) are trained to help individuals navigate the medical and psychological implications of genetic test results, familial conditions, and ultrasound anomalies. Therefore, familiarity with reproductive options, including abortion, is vital. However, previous studies have found gaps in GCs' knowledge regarding abortion care and there are currently no recommendations regarding abortion curriculum. This study aimed to assess the state of abortion curriculum in genetic counseling graduate programs in the United States and to examine and compare the satisfaction levels of program representatives and recent graduates. Program representatives and recent graduates were invited to complete an anonymous survey evaluating the abortion curriculum, satisfaction with said curriculum, and perceived preparedness to counsel on abortion. Quantitative data from 46 program representatives and 123 recent graduates were analyzed using descriptive statistics and appropriate statistical analyses, including the Mann–Whitney U-test and the Kruskal–Wallis test. Large variability existed in the amount and types of abortion training. Results showed greater satisfaction and feelings of preparation to counsel on abortion in graduates whose program provided a dedicated abortion curriculum (p < 0.001, p = 0.005). In addition, graduates with abortion counseling experience felt less prepared to counsel on abortion than their programs believed them to be (p = 0.04). Graduates perceived procedural timing, facilitation of genetic testing, and resources/support desired by patients before, during, or after an abortion, to be the most important topics, although these were not included in all programs' curriculum. Program representatives and recent graduates alike noted that variability in clinical training is a barrier to abortion education. Our results demonstrate a need for curricular reform to reduce variability in training and ensure that all graduates receive the same foundational abortion education. Further research is needed to determine the scope of GCs in abortion care, as well as which topics and education formats are most helpful in graduate education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)

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