Shooting a moving target : researching autism genes : an interview study with professionalsShooting a moving target : researching autism genes : an interview study with professionals
Faculty of Arts. Philosophy
Center for Ethics
Journal of medical genetics. - London
59(2016):1, p. 32-38
University of Antwerp
Background: Given the wide variety of the phenotype, the uncertain genetic origins and the discussions surrounding the status of autism itself, genetic research on autism genes generates specific ethical questions that are not completely analogous to the ethical issues of genetic research in general. Method: In order to map ethical issues surrounding research on autism genes, as experienced by professionals in the field of autism, we interviewed 15 Belgian professionals. Results: We found that respondents believed that the heterogeneity of the autism phenotype affects the ethics of research on several levels. It affects issues regarding who to include in research on autism genes, regarding what the aim is of such studies, and how the research is done. Conclusions: Although genetic research on autism genes is proliferating, a systematic ethical reflection and protocol is missing. With this study we have shown that autism professionals in Belgium express both skepticism and hope with regard to genetic research and raise important points with regard to the effect that the complexity of autism has on research aims and methodology. (C) 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.