Relatively few investigations of the public’s perceptions and attitudes about genetic counseling exist, and most are limited to individuals at-risk for a specific disease. In this study 203 individuals from a Midwest rural area completed an anonymous survey assessing their familiarity with genetic counseling; perceptions of genetic counseling purpose, scope, and practice; attitudes toward genetic counseling/counselors; and willingness to use genetic counseling services. Although very few respondents were familiar with genetic counseling, most reported accurate perceptions and positive attitudes; mean ratings, however, showed less endorsement of trust in information provided by genetic counselors and less agreement that genetic counseling aligns with their values. Logistic regression indicated reported willingness to use genetic counseling services increased if respondents: had completed some college; rated their familiarity with genetic counseling as high; agreed with the statements: genetic counseling may be useful to someone with cancer in their family, genetic counseling is in line with my values, and genetic counselors advise women to get abortions when there is a problem; and disagreed with the statements: genetic counseling is only useful to a small group of people with rare diseases, and genetic counselors must receive a lot of special training. Additional findings, practice implications, and research recommendations are presented.
- Genetic counseling
- Rural population
- Willingness to use genetic counseling services