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Ethical Challenges in Teaching Genetics for Medical Students

    Authors: Erika Nagle1,*, Dzintra Kažoka2
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology and Microbiology, Riga Stradinš University, Riga, Latvia; 2: Institute of Anatomy and Anthropology, Department of Morphology, Riga Stradinš University, Riga, Latvia
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 15 December 2014
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biology and Microbiology, Riga Stradinš University, LV 1007 Dzirciema Street 16, Riga, Latvia. Phone: +371-29194750. Fax: +371-67471815. E-mail: [email protected], [email protected].
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 181-185. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.776
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    Abstract:

    Although inclusion of ethics as a study course in medical students’ curricula is a common practice, special approaches in teaching ethics in the context of genetics should be considered. In the realm of genomics, there are several ethically sensitive topics such as diagnosis of genetic diseases, fertilization, and identification of genetic susceptibility to common diseases. In addition, in communication with the general public, genetic terms should be used with caution. Demonstration of the phenotypes of affected individuals should be regarded as a particular aspect of teaching genetics. In a description of a patient’s phenotype, not only is it necessary to provide scientifically precise characteristics of a patient; voice timbre, facial expression, and body language should also be carefully controlled. Furthermore, in medicine, the theory–practice gap is a problematic aspect, and students often find it difficult to apply knowledge on ethical issues to real situations in clinics. For this purpose, clinical cases are presented during classes and their analysis requires a very respectful attitude on the part of both students and lecturers. For many genetic diseases, evaluation of minor anomalies such as a curved fifth finger, low situated ears, or missing of some teeth is required. Some minor anomalies are found in healthy individuals too, and interpretation of such features must therefore be considered carefully. This article describes our experiences in teaching genetics at Riga Stradinš University, ethical problems faced while teaching genetics, and their solutions.

Key Concept Ranking

Cardiovascular Diseases
0.4704866
Gene
0.40864822
Mutation
0.3044325
0.4704866

References & Citations

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3. Chadwick R, Childs R 2012 Ethical issues in the diagnosis and management of fetal disorders Best Pract. Res. Clin. Obstet. Gynaecol. 26 541 550 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2012.06.003 22901734 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2012.06.003
4. Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program 2012 Ethical and Professional Dilemmas for Educators. Facilitator’s Guide: Understanding the Code of Professional Responsibility for Educators Module 5 – Phase I Pilot. [Online.] http://www.ctteam.org/df/resources/Module5_Manual.pdf
5. Fisher CB, Harrington McCarthy EL 2013 Ethics in prevention science involving genetic testing Prev Sci 14 310 318 10.1007/s11121-012-0318-x 23354905 3633706 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11121-012-0318-x
6. Godbold R, Lees A 2013 Ethics education for health professionals: a values based approach Nurse Educ Pract 13 553 560 10.1016/j.nepr.2013.02.012 23517926 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nepr.2013.02.012
7. Goldworth A 1999 The ethics of in vitro fertilization Pediatr. Rev. 20 e28 e31 10.1542/pir.20-8-e28 10429154 http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/pir.20-8-e28
8. Health Center of Genetics Education 2013 Fact Sheet 23. Some ethical issues in human genetics and genomics [Online.] http://www.genetics.edu.au/Publications-and-Resources/Genetics-Fact-Sheets/FactSheet23
9. Howard HC, Swinnen E, Douw K, Vondeling H, Cassiman JJ, Cambon-Thomsen A, Borry P 2013 The ethical introduction of genome-based information and technologies into public health Public Health Genomics 16 100 109 10.1159/000346474 23428828 http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000346474
10. Khan A, Capps BJ, Sum MY, Kuswanto CN, Sim K 2014 Informed consent for human genetic and genomic studies: a systematic review Clin. Genet. 86 199 206 10.1111/cge.12384 24646408 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.12384
11. Lawrie SM, et al 2001 Neurodevelopmental indices and the development of psychotic symptoms in subjects at high risk of schizophrenia Br J Psychiatry 178 524 530 10.1192/bjp.178.6.524 11388968 http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.178.6.524
12. Manouilenko I, Eriksson JM, Humble MB, Bejerot S 2014 Clinical study: minor physical anomalies in adults with autism spectrum disorder and healthy controls Autism Res Treat 2014 1 9 10.1155/2014/743482 http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/743482
13. Melas PA, Georgsson Öhman S, Juth N, Bui TH 2012 Information related to prenatal genetic counseling: interpretation by adolescents, effects on risk perception and ethical implications J Genet Couns 21 536 546 10.1007/s10897-011-9418-1 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10897-011-9418-1
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18. What to Do if Your Genetic Test Results Are Positive 2013 [Online.] http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/genetic/pos_results

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.776
2014-12-15
2019-01-21

Abstract:

Although inclusion of ethics as a study course in medical students’ curricula is a common practice, special approaches in teaching ethics in the context of genetics should be considered. In the realm of genomics, there are several ethically sensitive topics such as diagnosis of genetic diseases, fertilization, and identification of genetic susceptibility to common diseases. In addition, in communication with the general public, genetic terms should be used with caution. Demonstration of the phenotypes of affected individuals should be regarded as a particular aspect of teaching genetics. In a description of a patient’s phenotype, not only is it necessary to provide scientifically precise characteristics of a patient; voice timbre, facial expression, and body language should also be carefully controlled. Furthermore, in medicine, the theory–practice gap is a problematic aspect, and students often find it difficult to apply knowledge on ethical issues to real situations in clinics. For this purpose, clinical cases are presented during classes and their analysis requires a very respectful attitude on the part of both students and lecturers. For many genetic diseases, evaluation of minor anomalies such as a curved fifth finger, low situated ears, or missing of some teeth is required. Some minor anomalies are found in healthy individuals too, and interpretation of such features must therefore be considered carefully. This article describes our experiences in teaching genetics at Riga Stradinš University, ethical problems faced while teaching genetics, and their solutions.

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