African American women are disproportionately impacted by breast cancer and its associated effects. They have the highest breast cancer mortality rate of all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., yet, many high risk African American women do not follow-up with genetic testing despite, having a shorter survival rate and more likely to develop malignancies or aggressive forms of breast cancer than white women. Purpose: This review explored breast cancer genetic follow up and barriers among African American women and made recommendations for designing tailored high risk breast cancer programs. Method: The Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction framework provided the framework for the review. PubMed, PSYINFO, CINAHL and Cochrane Collection Plus databases were searched for articles published from 2007 to 2017 that focused on attitude and beliefs that influenced genetic testing follow up among African American women. Three reviewers independently reviewed and appraised articles. The quality of the articles was assessed to determine the evidence level and overall recommendations using the Joanna Bridge Institute grading criteria. Results: Sixteen of the 2275 articles reviewed met the inclusion criteria of which, seven showed statistically significance changes related to family concerns, medical mistrust and cost barriers; decreases in breast cancer worry and perceived risk after genetic counseling; and higher education level and diagnosed early increased genetic testing. Conclusions: This systematic review provides greater understanding of how the social determinants of health influence decisions about genetic testing and treatment to determine why African American women who are at risk for breast cancer, do not progress to genetic testing. It provided recommendations for designing sensitive curriculum content for African American women and providers to increase genetic follow-up and reduce breast cancer disparity. The results of this review could be used to design comprehensive, tailored interventions to address the identified barriers, increase breast cancer awareness and early detection, and help minority women make informed, value decisions about genetic testing and treatment options. Recommendations: Future research is required to examine the role communities, agencies and policy makers play in improving clinical outcomes for minorities.

Author Bio(s)

Shirley Spencer, PhD, MSN, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services at Governors State University in University Park, IL. She is also a licensed registered nurse in the state of Illinois.

Carolyn Rodgers, PhD, MPH, MHS, MCHES, is a Senior Lecturer of Addiction Studies Behavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Services at Governors State University in University Park, IL. She is a Division Board member for Professional Preparation and Practice for the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.

Vickii Coffey, PhD, MSA, is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the College of College of Health and Human Services at Governors State University, University Park, Illinois.


We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Catherine Tymkow, Governors State University. She critically reviewed the manuscript and made helpful suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Kent Hoskins, oncologist and Director of the University of Illinois, Chicago Familial Breast Cancer Program, who suggested the concept for this review.



Spencer_Figure.jpg (150 kB)
PRISMA flowchart of eligible studies

Spencer Appendix A Table.docx (18 kB)
Study characteristics and summary of key findings of factors influencing genetic uptake


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