Date Degree Awarded

Spring 5-16-2020

Degree Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Bioscience (MBS)

First Thesis/Dissertation Advisor

Danielle Sharaga

Second Thesis/Dissertation Advisor

Mackenzie Blaile

Third Thesis/Dissertation Advisor

Emily Quinn

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


Objective: The purpose of this research study is to understand the perspectives of genetic counselors who work with patients in the cancer setting and explore if nutrition is a consideration when counseling patients.

Background: Evidence on the influence of nutrition on cancer risk is increasing with retrospective cohort studies. The American Cancer Society states that smoking, body mass index (BMI), poor nutrition, and excess alcohol consumption are directly linked to cancer occurrences, therefore some cancers may be preventable through lifestyle changes (American Cancer Society, 2016). In cancer genetic counseling sessions, patients are often inquiring about nutritional recommendations. A majority of patients have at least one modifiable lifestyle risk factor that increases their risk of developing cancer (Albada, et al., 2013; Quillin, 2016).

Method: Eight genetic counselors in Southern California working in the cancer specialty were interviewed to explore their perceptions of nutritional recommendations during counseling sessions. Transcripts were reviewed, coded, and analyzed using conventional content analysis.

Result: All genetic counselors participating in this study (8/8) expressed that they believe nutrition can contribute to cancer risk. Variability in the cohort regarding who regularly offered nutritional recommendations and the factors that influenced their perceptions of nutrition in this setting was explored.

Conclusion: Initial research shows that genetic counselors could benefit from additional education regarding nutritional impact on cancer risk in their formal training. A larger cohort study is recommended to determine if a majority of genetic counselors working in oncology have similar attitudes towards nutritional recommendations in their current practice.

Rights Information

2020 Breann B Reinsch