Informed Consent in Genetic Counseling

Since a major component of genetic counseling is communication of information, and since the counselee is encouraged to make her or his own decision, problems or conflicts with informed consent are unusual. Informed consent is especially relevant in the counseling process when a procedure may result in potentially harmful or ambiguous outcomes, for example:

1. in connection with prenatal diagnosis, when the counselee or woman who is to undergo the test needs to understand its risks, benefits, errors, and limitations;

2. as a prelude to presymptomatic testing for a serious disorder without available treatment or methods of prevention, where a positive result can have profound implications for the individual's future life;

3. in connection with participation in a research protocol in which there may be questions about the future use of data or tissue or blood (especially DNA) in future studies or in the search for other genetic markers.

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