Ethical issues of genetic susceptibility testing for occupational diseases: opinions of trainees in a high-risk job
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- Visser, M.J., Rhebergen, M.D.F., Kezic, S. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2013) 86: 827. doi:10.1007/s00420-012-0816-y
Genetic research has opened up possibilities for identification of persons with an increased susceptibility for occupational disease. However, regulations considering the ethical issues that are inevitably associated with the use of genetic tests for susceptibility for occupational diseases are scarce. We investigated whether opinions of an intended stakeholder group, that is, student nurses, are sufficiently addressed by existing recommendations.
Attitudes and opinions of Dutch student nurses toward a genetic test for susceptibility to occupational contact eczema were studied in a qualitative setup using focus groups, interviews and electronic questionnaires. The results were compared with guidelines and recommendations extracted from the literature.
Sixty-nine percent of the student nurses said they would partake in a genetic test for susceptibility to occupational contact eczema when available. Concerns were expressed regarding the difficulty of interpreting test results, the utility of the test result in practice and the necessity of genetic tests for non-severe diseases. For the issue of privacy and confidentiality, the students expressed few worries and much confidence. The existing guidelines largely covered the students’ opinions. Still, the data emphasized the need for good individual risk communication both before and after testing, taking into account that the test concerns susceptibility.
Comparing the students’ statements with the issues addressed by the guidelines, we conclude that the guidelines should pay more attention to risk communication and practical advice accompanying the test results.