J Genet Couns. 2013 Jun 1. [Epub ahead of print]
Ethical and Professional Challenges of Genetic Counseling - the Case of Austria.
SourceDepartment of Public Health and Health Technology Assessment, UMIT - Private University of Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall, Tirol, Austria, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Genetic counseling is gaining in importance with the increasing application of genetic testing for diagnosis and clinical treatment. Genetic counseling often raises ethical and professional challenges and prior research has categorized them into 16 domains. The purpose of this study was to analyze the situation in Austria on the basis of these challenges and discuss it in the national and international context. While in some countries there is a special profession for genetic counseling, in Austria it is provided by medical geneticists or other physicians in the context of their specialization. Psychosocial professionals might be consulted or brought in if necessary. Results from 95 survey respondents (including physicians and psychosocial professionals) revealed a greater interest in the topic of genetic counseling by medical specialists other than medical geneticists. The most frequently encountered challenges among physicians were informed consent, organizational constraints, withholding information, and attaining/maintaining proficiency. The psychosocial professionals experienced maintaining proficiency and organizational constraints as the prevalent challenges. Additional findings and practice implications are presented.
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