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Purpose of reviewGenomic tests offer increased opportunity for diagnosis, but their outputs are often uncertain and complex; results may need to be revised and/or may not be relevant until some future time. We discuss the challenges that this presents for consent and autonomy.Recent findingsPopular discourse around genomic testing tends to be strongly deterministic and optimistic, yet many findings from genomic tests are uncertain or unclear. Clinical conversations need to anticipate and potentially challenge unrealistic expectations of what a genomic test can deliver in order to enhance autonomy and ensure that consent to genomic testing is valid.SummaryWe conclude that 'fully informed' consent is often not possible in the context of genomic testing, but that an open-ended approach is appropriate. We consider that such broad consent can only work if located within systems or organisations that are trustworthy and that have measures in place to ensure that such open-ended agreements are not abused. We suggest that a relational concept of autonomy has benefits in encouraging focus on the networks and relationships that allow decision making to flourish.

Original publication




Journal article


Current genetic medicine reports

Publication Date





85 - 91


Clinical Ethics and Law at Southampton (CELS), Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Centre for Cancer Immunology, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, SO16 6YD UK.