Applying new genetic technologies: assessment and ethical considerations

Janet K. Williams, University of Iowa
D. H. Lea


Discovery of genes associated with clinical disorders increases the ability of clinicians to more accurately assess risk for their clients to develop or to be carriers of certain health problems. Estimating these risks has become more precise with the addition of genetic testing. The process of client assessment and considerations associated with genetic testing for cystic fibrosis and one form of colon cancer (familial adenomatous polyposis) are presented in a case study format. Ethical considerations in the use of genetic testing include protection of privacy, protection from coercion, and assuring client understanding of implications of test results. Practitioner responsibilities also include educating clients regarding benefits and limitations of testing, collaborating with genetic counseling resources, and monitoring the client for potential adverse outcomes of testing.