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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Supporting decision-making in whole genome/exome sequencing : parents' perspectives Li, Karen Christine


Whole genome sequencing/exome sequencing (WGS/ES) technology is becoming more affordable and accessible, and will become more frequently used in various clinical settings, including for diagnosing rare childhood diseases. However, its use means that parents face decisions that could uncover life-altering information, unrelated to their child’s illness that may also have personal and ethical implications for their families. The purpose of this study is to explore and describe parents’ perceptions of their decisional needs when deciding on WGS/ES for their child. The qualitative methodological approach known as Interpretive Description, the concept of shared decision-making and the Ottawa Decision Support Framework were used to inform and guide this study. Parents of children who had previously undergone WGS/ES informed consent were invited to participate in a focus group or individual in-person or telephone interviews. Parents had children with a range of undiagnosed conditions suspected to be genetic in origin. 15 parents were interviewed and transcriptions were analyzed concurrently and iteratively. Repeat interviews were conducted with 5 of the parents to confirm, challenge or expand on the developing conceptualizations. Participants felt that their decision to proceed with WGS/ES for their child was easy. However, they expressed many unresolved decisional needs including: a lack of knowledge about certain topics that became relevant and important to them later, unmet expectations, and a need for more support and resources. Participants also acknowledged that the high volume of information and urgency of their circumstances may have caused them to be less receptive (or even unreceptive) to information during their WGS/ES decision-making (DM) process. Additionally, participants had ongoing informational and psychosocial needs beyond the single clinical encounter where their WGS/ES DM occurred. The content and amount of information that participants considered to be important varied. Prior to the widespread use of clinical WGS/ES, parents’ perspectives about their decisional needs should be considered in order to implement parent-tailored education, counselling, decision support and informed consent processes.

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