The autonomy paradox: predictive genetic testing and autonomy: three essential problems

Patient Educ Couns. 1998 Sep;35(1):53-62. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(98)00083-4.


The development of genetics creates the possibility to acquire more and more information concerning our genetic constitution. In general this is considered as a contribution to the autonomy of patients and others. In this article it is pointed out that the relation between genetic information and autonomy is far from simple. The autonomy of people may even be threatened by genetic information. Counsellors should therefore be very careful in offering the opportunity of genetic testing; a general policy of restraint would be advisable. And when offering information, several considerations should be kept in mind in order to avoid doing more harm than good in the counseling process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Freedom
  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Patient Advocacy*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Truth Disclosure