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AJOB Primary Research.

Media Coverage of Ethical Issues in Predictive Genetic Testing: A Qualitative Analysis

Background: Predictive genetic testing (PGT) raises many ethical issues and is of increasing interest to the general population. Mass media, especially newspapers, are the public’s main source of information on this topic. Methods: We conducted a content analysis of British newspaper reporting, assessing which ethical issues were mentioned. The analysis was qualitative with semi-quantitative aspects. All articles about PGT published in The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph from 2011 to 2016 were included. Results: Most ethical issues discussed in the scientific and ethical literature are implicitly or explicitly covered in newspapers, but there was no discussion of incidental findings and the possibility of false reassurance of a negative test result was mentioned only once. There are also important gaps regarding the multidimensional nature and complexity of many issues. The Guardian mentioned ethical issues more frequently than the Daily Telegraph. Most ethical issues were portrayed as first-person narratives. Conclusions: Ethical issues concern potential test users and society more than scientific background knowledge about such tests; therefore, more efforts should be taken to address these complex issues in a manner that is comprehensible for the lay public.

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Volume 10, Issue 4
October 2019