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21.08.2018 | Original Research

Practice Variation among an International Group of Genetic Counselors on when to Offer Predictive Genetic Testing to Children at Risk of an Inherited Arrhythmia or Cardiomyopathy

Journal of Genetic Counseling
S. Christian, M. Somerville, C. Huculak, J. Atallah
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10897-018-0293-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Cascade predictive genetic testing is available for many families as a means to identify individuals at risk of long QT syndrome (LQTS), catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The general issue of offering predictive genetic testing to minors has been an area of ethical debate among genetic counselors and other healthcare professionals for many years. An online questionnaire was circulated to four international genetic counseling associations to assess the views of cardiac genetic counselors regarding when to offer predictive genetic testing to children at risk of LQTS, CPVT, HCM, and ARVC. Analysis was both quantitative and qualitative. The study sample comprised 98 respondents. The majority reported that they offer predictive genetic testing before 5 years of age to children at risk of LQTS (83%) and CVPT (75%) and before 10 years of age to children at risk of HCM (66%) or ARVC (70%). Influencing factors included country of practice, clinical setting, and years of experience. The rationale provided for when to offer predictive genetic testing is encompassed by the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and informed consent. In conclusion, significant practice variation exists among cardiac genetic counselors regarding predictive genetic testing for children at risk of an inherited cardiomyopathy. These variations call for more research in the area to assist with the development of evidence-based guidelines.

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