The Right Not to Know and the Duty to Tell: The Case of Relatives

J Law Med Ethics. 2014 Spring;42(1):38-52. doi: 10.1111/jlme.12117.


Obtaining and sharing genetic information when there is a potential conflict of interest between patients and their relatives give rise to two questions. Do we have a duty to find out our genetic predispositions for disease for the sake of our relatives, or do we have a right to remain ignorant? Do we have a duty to disclose our known genetic predispositions for disease to our relatives? I argue that the answer to both questions is yes, but to a lesser extent than sometimes claimed.

MeSH terms

  • Duty to Warn / ethics*
  • Family*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Privacy*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Patient Rights
  • Personal Autonomy