Patients' and professionals' views related to ethical issues in precision medicine : a mixed research synthesis

Many patients and professionals expect high benefits from precision medicine and have a positive attitude towards it. However, patients and professionals also perceive some risks. Commonly perceived risks include: lack of evidence for accuracy of tests and efficacy of treatments; limited knowledge of patients, which makes informed consent more difficult; possible unavailability of access to precision medicine for underprivileged people and ethnic minorities; misuse of data by insurance companies and employers, potential of racial stigmatization due to genetic information; unwanted communication of incidental findings; changes in doctor-patient-relationship through focusing on data; and the problem that patients could feel under pressure to optimize their health.


National legislation and guidelines already minimize many risks associated with precision medicine. However, from our perspective some problems require more attention. Should hopes for precision medicine's benefits be fulfilled, then the ethical principle of justice would require an unlimited access to precision medicine for all people. The potential for autonomous patients' decisions must be greatly enhanced by improvements in patient education. Harm from test results must be avoided in any case by the highest possible data security level and communication guidelines. Changes in the doctor-patient relationship and the impact of precision medicine on the quality of life should be further investigated. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of precision medicine should be further examined, in order to avoid malinvestment.


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