J Korean Oncol Nurs.  2011 Nov;11(3):200-209.

Communication Patterns in Korean Families during BRCA Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

Affiliations
  • 1School of Nursing, San Diego State University, CA, USA.
  • 2Department of Nursing, Daejeon University, Daejeon, Korea. jun7710@dju.ac.kr
  • 3Department of Nursing, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

PURPOSE
The purpose of this micro-ethnography is to examine whether science and societal changes impact family communication patterns among a convenience sample of 16 Korean women.
METHODS
The authors observed family communication in the context of a new breast cancer genetic screening and diagnostic testing program to detect BRCA gene mutations in Korean women at highest risk.
RESULTS
Analysis of in-depth interviews and field notes taken during participant observation illustrated that communication patterns in families vary according to a woman's position in the family. If a grandmother tests positive for a gene mutation, her daughters make decisions on her behalf; they open and maintain the communication channel among family members. If a housewife is diagnosed with cancer and a genetic mutation, she immediately consults her husband and her sisters. The husband creates an open communication channel between his wife, his parents and his siblings. As a result, a woman's cancer is a concern for the whole family not merely a woman's secret or crisis.
CONCLUSION
Cultural differences are important to consider when designing new genetic service programs in different countries.

Keyword

Breast Neoplasms; Genes; Genetic Counseling; Health Communication; Cultural Anthropology

MeSH Terms

Anthropology, Cultural
Breast
Breast Neoplasms
Diagnostic Tests, Routine
Female
Genes, vif
Genetic Counseling
Genetic Services
Genetic Testing
Health Communication
Humans
Nuclear Family
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
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