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November 22/29, 2000

Knowledge of Ethical Standards in Genetic Testing Among Medical Students, Residents, and Practicing Physicians

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(20):2595-2596. doi:10.1001/jama.284.20.2591

To the Editor: As genetic technology evolves, physicians will find themselves called on to counsel patients about a rapidly increasing number of diseases for which genetic testing is available. The increased availability of testing raises new and complex ethical issues. Lack of familiarity with these issues may lead to profound and lifelong negative effects on patients, particularly children.

A 2-page survey to evaluate awareness of ethical issues related to genetic testing was developed and mailed to all medical students (n = 417) and primary care residents (n = 161) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, as well as 1000 randomly selected primary care physicians (250 pediatricians, obstetrician-gynecologists, family practitioners, and internists, respectively). The survey included 3 scenarios regarding requests for genetic testing: