Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS Human Genetics


Human Genetics Graduate Program


The Ashkenazi Jewish population has up to a 2.5% (1 in 40) carrier frequency for any of the three founder mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The current standard of care suggests genetic testing for founder mutations in only those individuals with a personal or family history of BRCA-related cancers in addition to Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry; however, recent studies suggest that up to 51% of Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA mutation carriers have little or no family history of relevant cancers (Gabai-Kapara et al., 2014). Since there are currently no well-defined educational programs to address this problem, the purpose of this study was to design, implement, and evaluate the utilization of group genetic counseling and pre-counseling education among “low-risk” Ashkenazi Jewish individuals being offered genetic testing for BRCA founder mutations. Most participants showed a gain in knowledge after group genetic counseling, no negativity towards group genetic counseling, and a better understanding of BRCA mutations in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. The results of this study show that pre-counseling education can be effectively utilized in a group setting and that group genetic counseling can be utilized successfully for population screening.