Professional and personal attitudes about access and confidentiality in the genetic testing of children: a pilot study

Genet Test. 2003 Summer;7(2):123-30. doi: 10.1089/109065703322146803.


The ability to perform predictive genetic testing of children raises ethical concerns regarding whether and when to test and the disclosure of results. Semi-structured interviews with a convenience sample of pediatricians (12) and geneticists (13) were conducted to see how they would react to parental requests for predictive genetic testing of their children, and their attitudes about testing their own children. We also asked about disclosure attitudes and practices for their patients' relatives and within their own families. Respondents would provide predictive genetic testing for most conditions, yet were less likely to seek this information about their own children. Respondents believed it was very important for patients to share some types of genetic information with relatives, and were directive in their counseling about intrafamilial disclosure, especially within their own families. Although respondents would almost never breach patient confidentiality, many would breach confidentiality within their own families. Health care professionals distinguish between their professional and personal roles with regard to issues of access and confidentiality in predictive testing of children. They are willing to provide greater access and more confidentiality for their patients than within their own families.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Confidentiality
  • Family
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • United States