Informed Consent in the Genomics Era

Informed Consent in the Genomics Era
Shannon Rego, Megan E. Grove, Mildred K. Cho, Kelly E. Ormond
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, 30 September 2019
Informed consent, the process of gathering autonomous authorization for a medical intervention or medical research participation, is a fundamental component of medical practice. Medical informed consent assumes decision-making capacity, voluntariness, comprehension, and adequate information. The increasing use of genetic testing, particularly genomic sequencing, in clinical and research settings has presented many new challenges for clinicians and researchers when obtaining informed consent. Many of these challenges revolve around the need for patient comprehension of sufficient information. Genomic sequencing is complex—all of the possible results are too numerous to explain, and many of the risks and benefits remain unknown. Thus, historical standards of consent are difficult to apply. Alternative models of consent have been proposed to increase patient understanding, and several have empirically demonstrated effectiveness. However, there is still a striking lack of consensus in the genetics community about what constitutes informed consent in the context of genomic sequencing. Multiple approaches are needed to address this challenge, including consensus building around standards, targeted use of genetic counselors in nongenetics clinics in which genomic testing is ordered, and the development and testing of alternative models for obtaining informed consent.

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