Genetic testing is a means of looking for changes or abnormalities in an individual’s genes or gene products (e.g., proteins). The purpose is to determine if someone has a genetic condition or is likely to get a specific disorder. Typically a person may be offered testing if they have a family history of a specific disease; they have symptoms of a genetic disorder; or they are concerned about passing a genetic disorder to their offspring. Genetic testing is voluntary, and the testing has both benefits and limitations.
Information that is available from genetic testing has great potential to improve health but also may raise concerns for individuals, family members and society as a whole. Some of these include: How should the information be used? Who should have access to the information (privacy)? How can we be protected from harm from improper use or disclosure (confidentiality, discrimination)?
For more information on genetics policies visit our Genetics in Healthcare Practice page.