Project Overview +

This study refines an existing Web-based, tailored decision aid for women at risk for breast and ovarian cancer. The existing educational materials are made more interactive, more highly tailored and personalized.

Aims +

Aim 1. Refine and expand an existing website (, including the addition of a personalized risk communication module for women considering BRCA 1/2 genetic testing.

Aim 2. Test Web-based methods for presenting cancer risk information relevant to BRCA testing decisions and explore individual differences in response to a hypothetical BRCA testing scenario.

Aim 3. Using results from Aims 1-2, prepare an R01 application to conduct a multi-site RCT of the study website (vs. CD-ROM and usual care) for increasing patients' knowledge and decisional satisfaction, reducing patient cancer-related worry, and reducing provider burden.

Participants +

One thousand six hundred women take an on-line survey of attitudes, beliefs, and intentions regarding genetic testing for breast cancer. Participants are recruited by purchasing an Internet sample from Survey Sampling International (SSI), a survey research firm that maintains a panel of more than two million members.

Intervention +

Our main research for this study focuses on hypothetical risk information as described in Aim 2 - adapting relevant sections of our website (e.g., Genetic Testing) to provide information about breast cancer risk factors and the benefits and limitations of BRCA1/2 testing. A hypothetical scenario is posed on the website, whereby participants are provided baseline risk estimates for breast cancer and asked to consider whether they would seek genetic testing to provide additional information about their probability of disease.

Regardless of their intentions, participants are provided information about how BRCA test results would alter their baseline level of risk. We use a 2 X 2 factorial design to examine the impact of different strategies for risk communication that have been debated among genetic counseling professionals:

  • Risk communication supplemented by pictographs vs. communication with words and numbers alone; and
  • Presentation of lifetime risk estimates as a single figure vs. as a range (e.g., 70% risk with a BRCA1 mutation, vs. 60-80%).

Findings +

Conclusion +

The site has been successfully adapted for use as an educational resource by the Michigan Department of Community Health and is now publicly available.

Breast Cancer Genetics Network Website Improvements

09/01/2007 - 08/31/2008


National Cancer Institute

Principal Investigator:

J. Scott Roberts, PhD