Unambiguous test results or individual independence? The role of clients and families in predictive BRCA-testing in the Netherlands compared to the USA
AbstractIt has been frequently acknowledged that results of predictive genetic tests may have implications for relatives as well as for the individual client. Ethicists have noted that an individual's right to know her genetic risk may conflict with a relative's right not to know this risk. It is hardly recognised, however, that family members may have a role in the production of test results as well. This article reconstructs the actual process of predictive BRCA-testing in the Netherlands, with a special focus on the roles assigned to clients and families and the expectations about family relationships inscribed in this practice. Fieldwork was carried out in an outpatient clinic for clinical genetics in an academic hospital. Data collection included 11 interviews with members of families, observations of counselling interviews between research participants and their clinical geneticist, and interviews with the 2 clinical geneticists involved in the consultations. It compares this process to the American practice of BRCA-testing. Whereas Dutch practice presupposes active involvement of diseased relatives in the testing process, American practice constitutes the client primarily as an independent individual who may or may not decide to involve her relatives. Moreover, Dutch clients are expected to have a harmonious, open and communicative relationship with their relatives. The American client, in contrast, is supposed to have more distant family relationships. It is argued that an interpretation of these differences in terms of 'the right to know' and 'the right not to know' misses the point, because the production of informative test results depends on the cooperation of relatives. The differences between Dutch and American practice are more adequately interpreted as implying a preference for unambiguous test results versus a preference for individual independence. The paper shows what is lost when opting for one value at the cost of another and discusses several alternatives to circumvent the value conflict at stake. By opening up for discussion the values implicit in BRCA-testing practices, the paper aims to contribute to debates on the overall desirability of these practices.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
Issue (Month): 11 (June)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Buchbinder, Mara & Timmermans, Stefan, 2011. "Newborn screening and maternal diagnosis: Rethinking family benefit," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(7), pages 1014-1018.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.