The Need to Consider Context: A Systematic Review of Factors Involved in the Consent Process for Genetic Tests from the Perspective of Patients

AJOB Empirical Bioethics 15 (2):93-107 (2024)
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Abstract

Background: Informed consent for genetic tests is a well-established practice. It should be based on good quality information and in keeping with the patient’s values. Existing informed consent assessment tools assess knowledge and values. Nevertheless, there is no consensus on what specific elements need to be discussed or considered in the consent process for genetic tests.Methods: We performed a systematic review to identify all factors involved in the decision-making and consent process about genetic testing, from the perspective of patients. Through public databases, we identified studies reporting factors that influence the decision to accept or decline genetic testing. Studies were included if they reported the perspective of patients or at-risk individuals. All articles were thematically coded.Results: 1989 articles were reviewed: 70 met inclusion criteria and 12 additional articles were identified through the references of included studies. Coding of the 82 articles led to the identification of 45 factors involved in decision-making and consent, which were initially divided into three domains: in favor of, against or with an undetermined influence on genetic testing. Each factor was also divided into three subdomains relating to the informed choice concept: knowledge, values or other. The factors in the “other” subdomain were all related to the context of testing (e.g. timing, cost, influence of family members, etc), and were present in all three domains.Conclusions: We describe the network of factors contributing to decision-making and consent process and identify the context of genetic testing as a third component to influence this process. Future studies should consider the evaluation of contextual factors as an important and relevant component of the consent and decision-making process about genetic tests. Based on these results, we plan to develop and test a more comprehensive tool to assess informed consent for genetic testing.

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