Public Perceptions of Ethical Issues Regarding Adult Predictive Genetic Testing

Health Care Analysis 18 (2):103-112 (2010)
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The purpose of this study was to explore the views of members of the general public regarding ethical issues in adult predictive genetic testing. The literature pertaining to ethical issues regarding to adult predictive genetic testing is largely restricted to the views of ‘experts’ who have emphasized informed consent, patent issues, and insurance discrimination. Occasionally the views of patients who have undergone genetic counselling and testing have been elicited, adding psychosocial and family issues. However, the general public has not had the opportunity to contribute. In order to explore theatre as a health policy research tool, 1,200 audience members attended the play ‘Sarah’s Daughters’ in seven Canadian cities, following which audience discussions were audiotaped. This study performed a secondary qualitative analysis of the data to identify the ethical issues of adult predictive genetic testing important to members of the general public. The identified issues were: (1) need for public education; (2) choice to undergo genetic counselling and testing; (3) access to genetic counselling and testing; and (4) obligations regarding the handling of genetic information. Audience members emphasized public education and access to information regarding potential choices, which was different from the emphasis on informed consent and other ethical issues prominent in the literature. Members of the general public emphasized ethical issues that were different than those identified by experts and patients. It is essential that members of the public be included in complex and controversial public policy decisions



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