Population Screening

One of the sequelae of the Human Genome Project has been a resurgence of interest in using clinical genetic testing tools at the population level to promote public health goals (Khoury, 1996; Coughlin). This resurgence raises a number of bioethical issues for public health policy-makers and the health professionals involved in delivering genetic services: questions about the limits of public health authority in this domain, the justice of population-based genetic interventions, the social costs of such screening, and the ethical allegiances of the clinicians involved. In this entry, these issues will be reviewed through the lens of one problem that seems to animate all the rest: the problem of defining prevention for the purposes of a public health genetics.

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