Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the self-rated competencies and perceived roles of medical geneticists, genetic counselors, and psychiatrists in the communication of genetic risk for psychiatric disorders to patients and families at an increased risk for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder, and their perspectives on training needs in this field.
Materials and methods: Clinically active members of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) were invited to complete the online survey. A total of 157 responses were included in data analysis: 17 medical geneticists, 36 genetics counselors, and 104 psychiatrists.
Results: In all, 34.4% of the respondents disagreed that their professional training had prepared them to discuss genetic information about psychiatric illnesses with patients. Medical geneticists perceived significantly higher levels of self-rated competency to discuss with patients and families genetic information on psychiatric disorders compared with genetic counselors and psychiatrists (t=−0.61, P=0.001; β=0.33, 95% confidence interval 0.16–0.49, P<0.001).
Conclusion: Findings suggest deficiencies in education and training programs on how to best communicate psychiatric genetic risk information to patients, suggesting that specialist programs are needed to better support health professionals. As self-rated competencies differed among the professional groups, training programs need to be tailored to participants’ professional backgrounds.