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Logo of jmedethJournal of Medical EthicsVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Med Ethics. Apr 2003; 29(2): 70–73.
PMCID: PMC1733698

Concern for families and individuals in clinical genetics


Clinical geneticists are increasingly confronted with ethical tensions between their responsibilities to individual patients and to other family members. This paper considers the ethical implications of a "familial" conception of the clinical genetics role. It argues that dogmatic adherence to either the familial or to the individualistic conception of clinical genetics has the potential to lead to significant harms and to fail to take important obligations seriously.

Geneticists are likely to continue to be required to make moral judgments in the resolution of such tensions and may find it useful to have access to ethics training and support.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • ASHG statement. Professional disclosure of familial genetic information. The American Society of Human Genetics Social Issues Subcommittee on Familial Disclosure. Am J Hum Genet. 1998 Feb;62(2):474–483. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Knoppers Bartha Maria. Genetic information and the family: are we our brother's keeper? Trends Biotechnol. 2002 Feb;20(2):85–86. [PubMed]
  • Rhodes R. Confidentiality, genetic information, and the physician-patient relationship. Am J Bioeth. 2001 Summer;1(3):26–28. [PubMed]
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