Health professionals’ beliefs in genetic determinism and their perspectives on the ethics of using COVID-19 host genomic information for decision-making during the pandemic
Friday, October 13, 2023
9:30 AM – 10:45 AM ET
Location: Essex AB (Fourth Floor)
Advances in host genomics research can play an important role in enabling precision medicine and precision public health approaches for the clinical management and public health control of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of genetic testing for variants associated with infectious diseases raises several ELSI issues, including genetic determinism since several non-genetic factors influence exposure to and severity of COVID-19. As an important stakeholder group, health professionals (HPs) can provide key insights into these ELSI issues. A cross-sectional survey was fielded to understand how HPs view the value and ethical acceptability of using COVID-19 host genomic information (HGI) across 3 main decision-making contexts: (1) hospital-based clinical decisions, (2) public health decisions, and (3) workforce decisions. The survey also assesses HPs’ beliefs related to genetic determinism and their perspectives on non-genetic factors that influence COVID-19.
Based on preliminary results from 603 HPs, their demographics are mostly female (77%), White (78%), and work in a clinical setting (90%). A majority agree that it is ethically acceptable to use HGI to make decisions about patient admission (63%) and clinical care (84%) of COVID-19 patients; 73% agree that genetic screening has an important role to play in the public health control of COVID-19. Variation in these results may be a function of participants’ beliefs in genetic determinism. Understanding stakeholder perspectives and anticipating ELSI issues will help inform policies for hospitals and public health departments to evaluate and perhaps adopt host genomic technologies in an ethically and socially responsible manner during future infectious disease outbreaks.