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And After the Test

Two genetic counselors call for an increased focus on post-test patient care, in an editorial appearing at BMJ Opinion.

Christine Patch and Anna Middleton, both from the Connecting Science program at the Wellcome Genome Campus, write that though genomic testing is increasingly part of mainstream healthcare, its main effect in the coming years will likely mostly be in the diagnosis of rare diseases. In particular, they write that genetic testing will shorten the diagnostic odyssey that many patients with a suspected rare genetic disease go through. 

Here, though, Patch and Middleton suggest a shift in approach. They write much of the focus of genetic counseling has been on the pre-genetic testing component and communicating test results. But they note that patients diagnosed with a rare genetic disease often have difficulties juggling the complex care their condition requires, and, to that end, they suggest that genetic counselors focus more on patients' post-test care.

"This will require a shift in thinking within the clinical genetics community," Patch and Middleton write. "We are letting patients and families down if we do not put as much emphasis on their care after genomics analysis as we currently put on it before."

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