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Becoming partners, retaining autonomy: ethical considerations on the development of precision medicine


Blasimme, Alessandro; Vayena, Effy (2016). Becoming partners, retaining autonomy: ethical considerations on the development of precision medicine. BMC Medical Ethics, 17(1):67.

Abstract

Precision medicine promises to develop diagnoses and treatments that take individual variability into account. According to most specialists, turning this promise into reality will require adapting the established framework of clinical research ethics, and paying more attention to participants' attitudes towards sharing genotypic, phenotypic, lifestyle data and health records, and ultimately to their desire to be engaged as active partners in medical research.Notions such as participation, engagement and partnership have been introduced in bioethics debates concerning genetics and large-scale biobanking to broaden the focus of discussion beyond individual choice and individuals' moral interests. The uptake of those concepts in precision medicine is to be welcomed. However, as data and medical information from research participants in precision medicine cohorts will be collected on an individual basis, translating a participatory approach in this emerging area may prove cumbersome. Therefore, drawing on Joseph Raz's perfectionism, we propose a principle of respect for autonomous agents that, we reckon, can address many of the concerns driving recent scholarship on partnership and public participation, while avoiding some of the limitations these concept have in the context of precision medicine. Our approach offers a normative clarification to how becoming partners in precision is compatible with retaining autonomy.Realigning the value of autonomy with ideals of direct engagement, we show, can provide adequate normative orientation to precision medicine; it can do justice to the idea of moral pluralism by stressing the value of moral self-determination: and, finally, it can reconcile the notion of autonomy with other more communitarian values such as participation and solidarity.

Abstract

Precision medicine promises to develop diagnoses and treatments that take individual variability into account. According to most specialists, turning this promise into reality will require adapting the established framework of clinical research ethics, and paying more attention to participants' attitudes towards sharing genotypic, phenotypic, lifestyle data and health records, and ultimately to their desire to be engaged as active partners in medical research.Notions such as participation, engagement and partnership have been introduced in bioethics debates concerning genetics and large-scale biobanking to broaden the focus of discussion beyond individual choice and individuals' moral interests. The uptake of those concepts in precision medicine is to be welcomed. However, as data and medical information from research participants in precision medicine cohorts will be collected on an individual basis, translating a participatory approach in this emerging area may prove cumbersome. Therefore, drawing on Joseph Raz's perfectionism, we propose a principle of respect for autonomous agents that, we reckon, can address many of the concerns driving recent scholarship on partnership and public participation, while avoiding some of the limitations these concept have in the context of precision medicine. Our approach offers a normative clarification to how becoming partners in precision is compatible with retaining autonomy.Realigning the value of autonomy with ideals of direct engagement, we show, can provide adequate normative orientation to precision medicine; it can do justice to the idea of moral pluralism by stressing the value of moral self-determination: and, finally, it can reconcile the notion of autonomy with other more communitarian values such as participation and solidarity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:4 November 2016
Deposited On:23 Feb 2017 11:51
Last Modified:21 Nov 2017 19:27
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1472-6939
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-016-0149-6
PubMed ID:27809825

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