Ethical issues of genetic susceptibility testing for occupational diseases: opinions of trainees in a high-risk job

  • M. J. Visser
  • M. D. F. Rhebergen
  • S. Kezic
  • F. J. H. van Dijk
  • D. L. Willems
  • M. M. Verberk
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00420-012-0816-y

Cite this article as:
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

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Keywords

Ethics Genetic testing Occupational health Healthcare workers 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Visser
    • 1
  • M. D. F. Rhebergen
    • 1
  • S. Kezic
    • 1
  • F. J. H. van Dijk
    • 1
  • D. L. Willems
    • 2
  • M. M. Verberk
    • 1
  1. 1.Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of General Practice, Section of Medical Ethics, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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