Views of healthcare professionals on the inclusion of genes associated with non-syndromic hearing loss in reproductive genetic carrier screening

Eur J Hum Genet. 2023 May;31(5):548-554. doi: 10.1038/s41431-022-01239-y. Epub 2023 Feb 9.


Genes associated with non-syndromic hearing loss (NSHL) are frequently included in panels for reproductive genetic carrier screening (RGCS), despite a lack of consensus on whether NSHL is a condition appropriate for inclusion in RGCS. We conducted a national online survey using a questionnaire to explore the views of clinicians who facilitate RGCS or provide care to deaf individuals in Australia and New Zealand regarding the inclusion of such genes in RGCS. Results were analysed descriptively, and free-text responses were analysed thematically. The questionnaire was completed by 386 respondents including genetic healthcare providers, obstetricians, ear nose and throat specialists, and general practitioners. The majority of respondents agreed that genes associated with NSHL should be included in RGCS, but there were differences between the groups. 74% of clinicians working in a hearing clinic agreed these genes should be included compared to 67% of genetic healthcare providers, 54% of reproductive care healthcare providers, and 44% of general practitioners. A majority of respondents agreed that moderate to profound deafness is a serious disability, although genetic healthcare providers were less likely to agree than other groups. Overall, respondents agreed that including NSHL in RGCS upholds prospective parents' right to information. However, they also identified major challenges, including concern that screening may express a discriminatory attitude towards those living with deafness. They also identified the complexity of defining the severity of deafness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Deafness* / diagnosis
  • Deafness* / genetics
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • Nonsyndromic Deafness