Patient experience of uncertainty in cancer genomics: a systematic review.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Genet Med, 2020, 22, (9), pp. 1450-1460
Issue Date:
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While genomics provides new clinical opportunities, its complexity generates uncertainties. This systematic review aimed to summarize what is currently known about the experience of uncertainty for adult patients undergoing cancer genomic testing. A search of five databases (2001 to 2018) yielded 6508 records. After removing duplicates, abstract/title screening, and assessment of full articles, ten studies were included for quality appraisal and data extraction. Qualitative studies were subjected to thematic analysis, and quantitative data were summarized using descriptive statistics. Cancer genomic results reduced uncertainty for patients regarding treatment decisions but did not reduce uncertainty in the risk context. Qualitative and quantitative data synthesis revealed four themes: (1) coexisting uncertainties, (2) factors influencing uncertainty, (3) outcomes of uncertainty, and (4) coping with uncertainty. Uncertainty can motivate, or be a barrier to, pursuing cancer genomic testing. Appraisal of uncertainty influences the patient experience of uncertainty, the outcome of uncertainty for patients, as well as the coping strategies utilized. While this systematic review found that appraisal of uncertainty is important to the patients' experience of uncertainty in the cancer genomic context, more mixed methods longitudinal research is needed to address the complexities that contribute to patient uncertainty across the process.
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