Follow-up care by a genetic counsellor for relatives at risk for cardiomyopathies is cost-saving and well-appreciated: a randomised comparison

Karin Nieuwhof, Erwin Birnie, Maarten P van den Berg, Rudolf A de Boer, Paul L van Haelst, J Peter van Tintelen, Irene M van Langen

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Increasing numbers of patient relatives at risk of developing dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (DCM/HCM) are being identified and followed up by cardiologists according to the ACC/ESC guidelines. However, given limited healthcare resources, good-quality low-cost alternative approaches are needed. Therefore, we have compared conventional follow-up by a cardiologist with that provided at a cardiogenetic clinic (CGC) led by a genetic counsellor. Phenotype-negative first-degree relatives at risk for DCM/HCM were randomly assigned to see either a cardiologist or to attend a CGC. Uptake and resource use were recorded. For 189 participants, we evaluated quality of care experienced, patient satisfaction and perceived personal control (PPC) using validated questionnaires and estimated the average cost difference of these two modes of care. Maximum patient satisfaction scores were achieved more frequently at the CGC (86% vs 45%, P<0.01). In terms of follow-up care provided, the genetic counsellor did not perform worse than the cardiologist (95% vs 59%, P<0.01). The genetic counsellor more often enquired about the relative-at risk's health (100% vs 65%, P<0.01) and family health (97% vs 33%, P<0.01), measured blood pressure (98% vs 29%, P<0.01) and gave disease-specific information (77% vs 52%, P<0.01). Although PPC scores were equal in both groups, the average cost per patient of CGC follow-up was 25% lower. Follow-up of phenotype-negative relatives at risk for DCM/HCM at a CGC led to greater patient satisfaction and is well-appreciated at lower cost. CGC care is a good alternative to conventional cardiological follow-up for this growing group of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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