‘At the point at which you can do something about it, then it becomes more relevant’: informed consent in the pharmacogenetic clinic

Hedgecoe, Adam (2005) ‘At the point at which you can do something about it, then it becomes more relevant’: informed consent in the pharmacogenetic clinic. Social Science and Medicine, 61 (6). pp. 1201-1210. ISSN 0898-9621

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Abstract

Sociological investigation of informed consent has generated rich and complex descriptions of the clinical encounter, often challenging the straightforward picture painted by medical ethicists. This paper builds on this work, drawing on ideas from the Sociology of Science and Technology, to explore informed consent issues surrounding the use of the drug Herceptin, widely cited as an example of a novel approach to drug development called pharmacogenetics. Drawing on qualitative semi-structured interviews with 25 UK-based breast cancer specialists, this paper explores Herceptin's disputed epistemological status, as an example of pharmacogenetics or as something out of the ordinary in terms of clinical practice. It considers how, in turn, this impacts on the way in which informed consent is sought and influenced by clinicians’ desire to protect patients from possibly distressing test results. It highlights the flexible, contingent and context dependent nature of informed consent in the clinical setting.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The article contributes to a developing area of research: the sociology of bioethics. By taking traditional bioethical concerns, in this case informed consent, and exploring how they develop in a medical setting, this article aims to emphasise the socially constructed nature of bioethical reasoning. While work in this area has been published on other medical topics, this is the first article to move discussion of the sociology of bioethics into debates around pharmacogenetics.
Keywords: Informed consent; Pharmacogenetics; Pharmacogenomics; Herceptin; Breast cancer; UK
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:28
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2012 11:36
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31342
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