Talking about familial breast cancer risk: topics and strategies to enhance mother-daughter interactions

Carla L Fisher, Erin K Maloney, Emily Glogowski, Karen E Hurley, Shawna Edgerson, Wendy G Lichtenthal, David Kissane, Carma L Bylund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


A hereditary cancer predisposition can rattle families, creating dysfunctional interactions. Families need assistance navigating conversations about risk. Because mothers and daughters uniquely share breast cancer experiences and risk, there is a particular need for practitioners to assist them with communication. Three focus groups were conducted with 11 mothers with an elevated cancer risk (with adolescent daughters) receiving genetic counseling. We explored three inquiries to capture mother-daughter communication: emergent challenging topics (e.g., health-promotion behavior, daughter s risk, mother s risk of death), factors complicating discussions (e.g., balancing what to share and when, guilt and blaming, confusion about risk and prevention), and strategies enhancing conversations initiated by mothers (e.g., paying attention to daughter s cues) or practitioners (e.g., inviting daughters to appointments). Findings suggested that mothers struggle to balance eliciting daughters concerns, providing them with support, and imparting knowledge without overwhelming them. We offer mothers and practitioners guidance to help facilitate these conversations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517 - 535
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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