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What counts as success in genetic counselling?
  1. R F Chadwick
  1. University of Wales, Cardiff.


    The question of what counts as a successful outcome of the process of genetics counselling has recently become central because of the increasing calls for efficiency in health care, and for means of measuring efficiency. Angus Clarke has drawn attention to this trend, and has argued against both a measure in terms of the number of terminations of pregnancy performed as a result of counselling, and an assessment in terms of the contribution of genetics counselling to a national eugenics policy. He suggests instead a measure of workload. There are good arguments for supporting Clarke's position up to a point. In looking for an appropriate measure, much turns on how genetics counselling is defined. It is here understood in the context of an autonomy model of health care. It is argued that there is a contradiction between such an interpretation and the termination measure of outcome. The political philosophy underlying this outcome is also defective. Workload is not sufficient as a measure of outcome however; it is essential to look at the proper goals of an activity. It is argued that these must be connected in some way with the genetic health of the population; that the promotion of reproductive autonomy itself is not sufficient as a goal. The concern for genetic health, however, is interpreted in a way that avoids Clarke's concerns about a national eugenics policy.

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