J Genet Med.  2007 Jun;4(1):1-5.

Genetic counseling in Korean health care system

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, Ajou University Medical School, Suwon, Korea. genetics@kornet.net

Abstract

Unprecedented amount of genetic information being generated from the result of Human Genome Project (HGP) and advances in genetic research is already forcing changes in the paradigm of health and disease. The ultimate goal of genetic medicine is to use genetic information and technology to develop new ways of treatment or even prevention of the disease on an individual level for 'personalized medicine'. Genetics is playing an increasingly important role in the diagnosis, monitoring and management of common multifactorial diseases in addition to rare single-gene disorders. While wide range of genetic testing have provided benefits to patients and family, uncertainties surrounding test interpretation, the current lack of available medical options for the diseases, and risks for discrimination and social stigmatization may remain to be resolved. However an increasing number of genetic tests are becoming commercially available, including direct to consumer genetic testing, yet public is often unaware of their clinical and social implications. The personal nature of information generated by a genetic test, its power to affect major life decisions and family members, and its potential misuse raise important ethical considerations. Therefore appropriate genetic counseling is needed for patient to be informed with the benefits, limitations and risks of genetic tests, prior to informed consent for the tests. Physician also should be familiar with the legal and ethical issues involved in genetic testing to tell patients how well a particular genetic risk factor relates with likelihood of disease, and be able to provide appropriate genetic counseling. Genetic counseling become a mandatory requirement as global standard for many genetic testing such as prenatal diagnosis, presymtomatic DNA diagnostic tests and cancer susceptibility gene test for familial cancer syndrome. In oder to meet the challenge of genetic medicine of 21 century in korean health care system, professional education program and certification board for medical genetics specialist including non-MD genetic counselors should be addressed by medical society and regulatory policy of national health insurance reimbursement for genetic counseling to be in place to promote the implementation of clinical genetic service including genetic counseling for proper genetic testing.

Keyword

Genetic counseling; Clinical genetics service; Genetic testing; Non-MD genetic counselor; Korean health care system
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