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Per Med. 2013 Jun;10(4). doi: 10.2217/pme.13.24.

How could disclosing incidental information from whole-genome sequencing affect patient behavior?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Genetics, Brigham & Women's Hospital & Harvard Medical School, EC Alumnae Hall, Suite 301, 41 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115-5727, USA.

Abstract

In this article, we argue that disclosure of incidental findings from whole-genome sequencing has the potential to motivate individuals to change health behaviors through psychological mechanisms that differ from typical risk assessment interventions. Their ability to do so, however, is likely to be highly contingent upon the nature of the incidental findings and how they are disclosed, the context of the disclosure and the characteristics of the patient. Moreover, clinicians need to be aware that behavioral responses may occur in unanticipated ways. This article argues for commentators and policy makers to take a cautious but optimistic perspective while empirical evidence is collected through ongoing research involving whole-genome sequencing and the disclosure of incidental information.

KEYWORDS:

contextual factor; health behavior; incidental finding; whole-genome sequencing

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