The clinical utility of genetic tests is determined by the outcomes following test use. Like other measures of value, it is often contested. Stakeholders may have different views about benefits and risks and about the importance of social versus health outcomes. They also commonly disagree about the evidence needed to determine whether a test is effective in achieving a specific outcome. Questions may be presented as factual disagreements, when they are actually debates about what information matters or how facts should be interpreted and used in clinical decision-making. Defining the different issues at stake is therefore an important element of policy-making. Key issues include evidence standards for test use, and in particular, the circumstances under which prospective controlled data should be required, as well as evidence on feasibility, cost and equitable delivery of testing; the goals of population-based screening programs, and in particular, the role of social outcomes in evaluating test value; and the appropriate uses and funding of tests that inform non-medical actions. Addressing each of these issues requires attention to stakeholder values and methods for effective deliberation that incorporate consumer as well as health professional perspectives.
Copyright 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.