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Soc Sci Med. 2002 May;54(9):1333-44.

Attitudes to bioethical issues: a case study of a screening project.

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Department of Health and Environment, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Sweden.


Commonly expressed in theoretical discussions about ethical problems in the context of epidemiology and screening is the need for more data. A study was carried out involving 21 explorative interviews with participant and nonparticipant mothers in a neonatal research screening project in progress in Sweden, ABIS (All Babies in Southeast Sweden). The respondents were asked, by way of open-ended questions, to give their opinions about certain ethical issues: informed consent; reasons for joining/declining; surrogate decision; the collection, analysis and storage of written and "live" material (biobanks); intervention etc. The ethical implications mentioned in the literature mostly concern the risk of creating distress and anxiety (anxiety and possible stigmatisation in respect of positive or false-positive results, worry about material collected and stored, distress caused by blood sampling procedures, etc.). Our results do not support the idea that the risks are substantial. The respondents rather indicate an attitude of benevolence--they are positive both to the current research on children, to the material they contribute (both written material and "biomaterial"), to possible results and intervention plans. On the other hand the participants expressed concern about the storage of material and the right to be informed of any screening/project results. Further studies in this field are needed and would be of help in theoretical discussion, the work of ethical committees and the designing of, for example, screening and research projects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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