Incidental findings from clinical sequencing in Greece: reporting experts' attitudes.
journal contributionposted on 11.02.2015, 14:11 by E. G. Gourna, Natalie Armstrong, S. E. Wallace
Unprecedented progress in sequencing technologies and decreasing cost have brought genomic testing into the clinical setting. At the same time, the debate in the literature concerning the return of incidental findings (IFs) has made this an important issue internationally. These developments reflect a shift in genetics that will also affect smaller countries, such as Greece, that are just starting to implement these technologies and may look to other countries for examples of good practice. Ten in-depth interviews were conducted with Greek experts in clinical sequencing. Previous experiences and attitudes toward IFs and clinical sequencing were investigated as well as views on the existing policy regarding managing genetic information generated through testing. . Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. All participants reported the lack of any legal or other supportive mechanism. IFs are currently managed at a "local" level, i.e. within the clinic or the laboratory in an ad hoc way. All participants thought that clinically valid and actionable IFs should be returned, but always with caution and in respect to patients' wishes, although several experts reported returning IFs according to their clinical discretion. Experts reported that most patients ask for all tests available but they felt that more counselling is needed to understand and manage genetic information. Due to the lack of any supporting mechanisms, professionals in Greece, even those with established experience in the field of genetic and genomic testing, have difficulties dealing with IFs. All experts agreed that it is now time, before the full integration of genomic testing into everyday clinical practice, for guidance to help Greek physicians work with patients and their families when IFs are discovered.