Objectives: Regarding the recent attention to develop policies regarding the provision of clinical genetic testing services, access to, acceptance, utilisation and regulation of genetic services was investigated in selected European countries as well as one non-European country.
Methods: Data were collected on the basis of relevant international reports and sources accessible via the internet, from self- designed, internationally administered surveys and with the help of a panel of experts from European countries participating in several workshops as well as from National European Societies of Human Genetics.
Results: A selection of divergent health care systems was reviewed and compared (e.g. Finland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Serbia/Montenegro). For the evaluation of clinical validity and utility of genetic testing, background information was provided focussing on DNA-based testing for heritable disorders with a strong genetic component (usually due to the action of a single gene).
Conclusions: There is great heterogeneity in genetic testing services among the countries surveyed. It is premature to mandate that genetic testing provided by clinical services meets professional standards regarding clinical validity and utility, because there is to date no consensus within the scientific community and among health care providers to what extent clinical validity and utility can and need to be assessed. Points to consider in the process of developing such standards are proposed.
(c) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel