Informed consent practices for exome sequencing: An interview study with clinical geneticists in the Netherlands

Wendy Bos, Eline M. Bunnik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Genomic sequencing is being used more frequently in the clinic, not only by clinical geneticists, but also by other specialists (“mainstreaming”). The use of genomic sequencing gives rise to challenges regarding informed consent, as it can yield more, and more complex results. Methods: This study maps the informed consent process for exome sequencing in the Netherlands by means of semistructured interviews with 14 clinical geneticists. Interviewees were asked about their strategies for informing patients about exome sequencing and supporting patients in their decision making, about what they think of as essential information elements, about the challenges they experience, and about their preferences for future policy and practice. Results: Clinical geneticists typically discuss the following topics: the nature and aim of the test, the possible results (including unsolicited or incidental findings and Variants of Uncertain Significance) of the test and the consequences of those results for the patient and their family members. Some clinical geneticists use a layered approach to informed consent, meaning that they give short and concise information at first, and provide more detailed information depending on the situation or the needs of the patient. Conclusion: During pre-test counseling for genomic sequencing, clinical geneticists use various strategies to enhance patient understanding and personalization of the informed consent process. Going forward, layering information may be part of a solution to ethical challenges of informed consent, also in mainstream settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1882
JournalMolecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date11 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is a result of the Research Consortium “ELSI of Personalised Medicine,” which was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw project no. 80‐84600‐98‐3002). The funder had no role in study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report, or in the decision to submit the article for publication. The authors thank other members of the Research Consortium and medical student Vincent Vrolijk for their contributions to the project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


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