Provision of genetic services in Europe: current practices and issues

B Godard, H Kaariainen, Ulf Kristoffersson, L Tranebjaerg, D Coviello, S Ayme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the professional and scientific views on the social, ethical and legal issues that impact on the provision of genetic services in Europe. Many aspects have been considered, such as the definition and the aims of genetic services, their organization, the quality assessment, public education, as well as the partnership with patients support groups and the multicultural aspects. The methods was primarily the analysis of professional guidelines, legal frameworks and other documents related to the organization of genetic services, mainly from Europe, but also from USA and international organizations. Then, the method was to examine the background data emerging from an updated report produced by the Concerted Action on Genetic Services in Europe, as well as the issues debated by 43 experts from 17 European countries invited to an international workshop organized by the European Society of Human Genetics Public and Professional Policy Committee in Helsinki, Finland, 8 and 9 September 2000. Some conclusions were identified from the ESHG workshop to arrive at outlines for optimal genetic services. Participants were concerned about equal accessibility and effectiveness of clinical genetic services, quality assessment of services, professional education, multidisciplinarity and division of tasks as well as networking. Within European countries, adherance to the organizational principles of prioritization, regionalization and integration into related health services would maximize equal accessibility and effectiveness of genetic actions. There is a need for harmonization of the rules involved in financial coverage of DNA tests in order to make these available to all Europeans. Clear guidelines for the best practice will ensure that the provision of genetic services develops in a way that is beneficial to its customers, be they health professionals or the public, especially since the coordination of clinical, laboratory and research perspectives within a single organizational structure permits a degree of coherence not often found in other specialties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S13-S48
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Medical Genetics

Free keywords

  • quality control
  • genetic testing
  • genetic services
  • counselling
  • genetic counselling
  • Europe


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