Addressing ethical challenges of disclosure in dementia prediction: limitations of current guidelines and suggestions to proceed
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17314
Background Biomarker research is gaining increasing attention focusing on the preclinical stages of the disease. Such interest requires special attention for communication and disclosure in clinical contexts. Many countries give dementia a high health policy priority by developing national strategies and by improving guidelines addressing disclosure of a diagnosis; however, risk communication is often neglected. Main text This paper aims to identify the challenges of disclosure in the context of dementia prediction and to find out whether existing clinical guidelines sufficiently address the issues of disclosing a dementia diagnosis and of disclosing the risk of developing dementia in asymptomatic and MCI stage. We will examine clinical guidelines and recommendations of three countries (USA, Canada and Germany) regarding predictive testing and diagnostic disclosure in dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to show their potentials and limits. This will provide a background to address ethical implications of predictive information and to identify ways how to proceed further. We will start by examining the guidelines and recommendations by focusing on what there is already and what is missing regarding the challenges of disclosing dementia prediction and MCI. Then, we will highlight the novel ethical issues generated by the shift to identify preclinical stages of the disease by biomarkers. We will argue for the need to develop guidelines for disclosing a risk status, which requires different considerations then disclosing a diagnosis of dementia. Finally, we will make some suggestions on how to address the gap and challenges raised by referring to German Stakeholder Conference, which presents us a good starting point to the applicability of involving stakeholders. Conclusions This paper underlines the need to develop empirically based guidelines that address the ethical and social strategies for risk communication of dementia prediction by genetic as well as non-genetic biomarkers. According to our analysis, the guidelines do not address the new developments sufficiently. International efforts should aim for specific guidelines on counseling, communicating risk and disclosing results. We argue that guidelines on (risk) disclosure should be developed by involving various stakeholders and should be informed by socio-empirical studies involving laypersons’ needs and wishes regarding risk communication.