Table 1

Disease characteristics and their relation to ethical principles: Ethical issues to consider

Disease characteristic

Ethical principles

Relation characteristic/principle:

Ethical issues to consider


Severity

Beneficence

Non-maleficence

High severity → high potential for medical benefit, high risk of psychological harm


Actionability

Beneficence

Non-maleficence

High actionability → high potential for (medical) benefit

Moderate actionability → risk of psychological harm (e.g. victim-blaming or feelings of guilt)

Low actionability → risk of psychological harm (emotional impact of test result)


Age of onset

Respect for autonomy

Late age of onset → right not to know in adults and children


Psychiatric/somatic

Non-maleficence

Psychiatric diseases: more risk of harm because of stigma; more risk of harm because of psychological impact


Bunnik et al. BMC Medical Genomics 2012 5:4   doi:10.1186/1755-8794-5-4

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