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Genetics services in a social, ethical and policy context: a collaboration between consumers and providers
  1. Dorothy C Wertz,
  2. Robin Gregg
  1. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Mental Retardation, Inc, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA


    We report a unique, collaborative effort by users and providers of genetic services to arrive at outlines for optimal ethics and clinical practice. Using focus groups of consumers (users) and providers (held separately), a provider-consumer project team developed 1) a consumer wish list, 2) an experientially based ethical overview of situations arising in practice, and 3) detailed suggestions for consumer-provider interactions in clinical settings. Consumers were primarily interested in accurate information, respect for persons, a smoothly functioning team, with the consumer as an equal member of the team, family integrity, and providers who knew the limits of their knowledge and were willing to refer. “Non-directive” counselling and privacy were not major issues in consumer focus groups; some thought providers should openly state their own opinions. Providers had a rather different list of priorities.

    Books and papers on clinical ethics usually originate from bioethicists and physicians. This pilot project is unique in including consumers and providers equally.

    • Genetic services
    • genetics and ethics
    • consumer-provider interaction
    • genetics and policy

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    • Dorothy C Wertz, PhD, is Senior Scientist in Social Science, Ethics and Law, The Shriver Center for Mental Retardation, Waltham, MA,USA. Robin Gregg PhD, was formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the Shriver Center.

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