Opinions and experiences of recontacting patients: a survey of Australasian genetic health professionals.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Community Genetics, 2022, 13, (2), pp. 193-199
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The issue of recontacting past genetics patients is increasingly relevant, particularly with the introduction of next-generation sequencing. Improved testing can provide additional information on the pathogenicity and prevalence of genetic variants, often leading to a need to recontact patients. Some international genetics societies have position statements and recommendations to guide genetic health professionals (GHPs) navigating the legal, ethical and practical issues of recontacting. In the absence of a standardised Australasian protocol, we explored the experiences and opinions of Australasian GHPs regarding patient follow-up and recontacting practices. Forty-five respondents completed an online survey. Most respondents indicated that recontacting occurred on an ad hoc basis, but most genetic services relied on patients (or family) initiating recontact. Implementation of a routine recontacting system was widely dismissed by 73% of respondents, citing lack of resources, limited information on legal responsibility and setting unrealistic expectations as common barriers. If recontact was contemplated, e-communication was an acceptable first step. This study identified the need for integrated familial cancer registries to assist under-resourced genetic services to maintain up-to-date patient records. Developing a standard recontacting protocol with flexibility to account for patient individuality and circumstances might enable provision of equitable service within Australasia.
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