Exploring the perceptions and the role of genetic counselors in the emerging field of perinatal palliative care.


Perinatal palliative care is a collaborative model of providing care to fetuses diagnosed with life-limiting conditions along with supportive care to parents. The study explored perceptions and current practice trends of genetic counselors related to this care. An ethics framework was used to structure the study. This cross-sectional, mixed method study was conducted to illuminate perceptions, practice barriers, familiarity with perinatal palliative care, clinician comfort, and referral comfort. The Perinatal Palliative Care Perceptions and Barriers Scale was self-administered online to 212 genetic counselors. Hierarchical multiple regression, used to test the hypothesis that perceptions, barriers to PPC, years of experience, personal comfort and prior familiarity with PPC explain variation in comfort of referral to PPC, yielded a significant overall R (2) of .51. These findings are the first data describing genetic counselors' perspectives and some of the factors contributing to referral comfort. Genetic counselors broadly endorsed the importance of palliative care concepts. They varied in their comfort with referral practices in ways that may be mitigated by increasing their familiarity with this evolving model of care.