Communicating Cancer Genetics

SPHERE’s research initiative on Communicating Genetics Information has great potential to advance our understanding of culturally sensitive approaches to communicating effectively with patients and families.

Our Goal

Genetic risk information is very complex and requires a high level of health literacy, as well as the ability to understand the risks and benefits of each potential decision. Minority patients are at greater risk of disparities in care, as they may not understand their genetic risk and take timely and appropriate action. Through this project, we will analyze the quality and content of communication between clinicians and their patients on genetic cancer risk in order to improve communication of genetics information.

Our Strategies

To determine the quality and content of communication between clinicians and their patients in describing genetic cancer risk information, including analysis of differences by ethnicity and health literacy, we will:

  • Audiotape the information that clinicians provide in delivering genetic test results to diverse patients.
  • Assess the correspondence between the recommendations of doctors and the subsequent actions of patients over a one year period.
  • Identify if and when patients share their personal genetic risk information with family member(s).

Learn more about SPHERE's research projects:


Integrated Personalized Omics Profiling (iPOP) aims to reduce health disparities by developing and applying ‘omics technologies to more effectively prevent and treat excess weight gain and diabetes risk.


The Bio-Repository for American Indian Capacity, Education, Law, Economics and Technology (BRAICELET) aims to reduce the myriad of health disparities in American Indian populations.

Research Initiatives

The Research Initiatives are the heart of SPHERE's work.