Objective: Genetic technology is complex, relatively new and involves sensitive issues pertaining to personhood and reproduction. While ethno cultural barriers to genetic care are well documented, little attention has been devoted to understanding religious beliefs pertaining to genetic services. This study evaluated the discourse between genetic counselors and Orthodox Jewish community members' perceptions of reproductive genetic technology. Methods: A cross section of the Orthodox Jewish community was sampled through purposeful and snowball recruitment for in-depth interviews with key informants. Results: Genetic counselors felt apprehensive about serving the Orthodox Jewish population and were unaware of social norms, religious and cultural practices unique to this population. Similarly, Orthodox Jewish consumers exhibited major misgivings about genetic testing. Importantly, stereotypic expectations by both counselors and consumers exacerbated existing communication difficulties. Conclusion: Cultural differences and poor communication between genetic counselors and Orthodox Jewish community members impeded the ability of the Orthodox Jewish community to utilize genetic services. Practice implications: This work illuminates complex issues pertaining to medical encounters between providers and patients with ideological, social and cultural differences. In particular, issues of access to care and transcultural competence in serving religious minority groups, such as Orthodox Jews are presented. On the whole, this group is largely unrecognized in the minority health literature in spite of barriers and challenges that they face. Findings of this study may have application to other cloistered and highly observant religious groups when dealing with reproductive technology and other populations with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors pertaining to reproductive health.
- Orthodox Jewish
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