Genetic screening for iron overload: No evidence of discrimination at 1 year

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
The Journal of family practice (Impact Factor: 0.89). 11/2007; 56(10):829-34.
Source: PubMed


This study measured the extent of insurance and employment problems associated with population screening for hereditary hemochromatosis and iron overload.
101,168 primary care patients from the US and Canada were screened for iron phenotypes and HFE genotypes associated with hemochromatosis. Those identified to be at risk (2253) were offered a clinical examination, which 1677 (74%) accepted, and the 1154 of these who responded to an initial questionnaire about psychosocial issues were surveyed 1 year later about whether they had experienced problems with insurance or employment that they attributed to hereditary hemochromatosis and iron overload.
832 (72.1%) of the 1154 participants surveyed after 1 year responded to the second survey. Three (0.4%) had verified problems with insurance or employment that they believed were related to hereditary hemochromatosis and iron overload. Two had problems with life insurance, and one with long-term care insurance. All 3 had elevated iron levels but not a relevant HFE genotype. One of the life insurance problems was resolved; the second one was not serious. The participant who was denied long-term care insurance had other health conditions unrelated to hereditary hemochromatosis and iron overload that could have contributed to the denial. No problems were verified for health insurance or employment, or from any of the comparison group participants (controls and those with inconclusive screening results).
The risk of insurance or employment problems 1 year after phenotype and genotype screening for hereditary hemochromatosis and iron overload is very low.

Download full-text


Available from: Jacob A Reiss
  • Source
    • "Around half of the studies reviewed (48%) found that, although GD had some empirical basis, its incidence was rare and it was not a significant source of insurance denials [4,14,16,17,19-22,27,31,39,40,42,44]. A second category, comprising a considerable number of studies (42%), concluded that the existence of GD in life insurance was documented by the evidence they provided and that the situation gave grounds for serious concern. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Since the late 1980s, genetic discrimination has remained one of the major concerns associated with genetic research and clinical genetics. Europe has adopted a plethora of laws and policies, both at the regional and national levels, to prevent insurers from having access to genetic information for underwriting. Legislators from the United States and the United Kingdom have also felt compelled to adopt protective measures specifically addressing genetics and insurance. But does the available evidence really confirm the popular apprehension about genetic discrimination and the subsequent genetic exceptionalism? Methods This paper presents the results of a systematic, critical review of over 20 years of genetic discrimination studies in the context of life insurance. Results The available data clearly document the existence of individual cases of genetic discrimination. The significance of this initial finding is, however, greatly diminished by four observations. First, the methodology used in most of the studies is not sufficiently robust to clearly establish either the prevalence or the impact of discriminatory practices. Second, the current body of evidence was mostly developed around a small number of 'classic' genetic conditions. Third, the heterogeneity and small scope of most of the studies prevents formal statistical analysis of the aggregate results. Fourth, the small number of reported genetic discrimination cases in some studies could indicate that these incidents took place due to occasional errors, rather than the voluntary or planned choice, of the insurers. Conclusion Important methodological limitations and inconsistencies among the studies considered make it extremely difficult, at the moment, to justify policy action taken on the basis of evidence alone. Nonetheless, other empirical and theoretical factors have emerged (for example, the prevalence and impact of the fear of genetic discrimination among patients and research participants, the (un)importance of genetic information for the commercial viability of the private life insurance industry, and the need to develop more equitable schemes of access to life insurance) that should be considered along with the available evidence of genetic discrimination for a more holistic view of the debate.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · BMC Medicine
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of the haemochromatosis gene (HFE; chromosome 6p21.3) associated with haemochromatosis in 1996, many studies about diverse aspects of this common genetic disorder have been done. Some patients present with cirrhosis and show high mortality, whereas many asymptomatic homozygotes for the C282Y mutation in the haemochromatosis gene identified in population screening studies, who have been followed up for many years, do not develop iron overload. Studies described the usefulness of transferrin saturation and serum ferritin tests, and the acceptability of genetic testing for haemochromatosis. Phlebotomy therapy improves hepatic fibrosis. Here, we summarise some new findings in haemochromatosis, a disorder first described in 1865.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2008 · The Lancet
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The greatest public health benefit of advances in understanding the human genome may be realized for common chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. Attempts to integrate such knowledge into clinical practice are still in the early stages, and as a result, many questions surround the current state of this translation. To synthesize current information on genetic health services for common adult-onset conditions by examining studies that have addressed the outcomes, consumer information needs, delivery, and challenges in integrating these services. MEDLINE articles published between January 2000 and February 2008. Original research articles and systematic reviews dealing with common chronic adult-onset conditions were reviewed. A total of 3371 citations were reviewed, 170 articles retrieved, and 68 articles included in the analysis. Data were independently extracted by one reviewer and checked by another with disagreement resolved by consensus. Variables assessed included study design and 4 key areas: outcomes of genomic medicine, consumer information needs, delivery of genomic medicine, and challenges and barriers to integration of genomic medicine. Sixty-eight articles contributed data to the synthesis: 5 systematic reviews, 8 experimental studies, 35 surveys, 7 pre/post studies, 3 observational studies, and 10 qualitative reports. Three systematic reviews, 4 experimental studies, and 9 additional studies reported on outcomes of genetic services. Generally there were modest positive effects on psychological outcomes such as worry and anxiety, behavioral outcomes have shown mixed results, and clinical outcomes were less well studied. One systematic review, 1 randomized controlled trial, and 14 other studies assessed consumer information needs and found in general that genetics knowledge was reported to be low but that attitudes were generally positive. Three randomized controlled trials and 13 other studies assessed how genomic medicine is delivered and newer models of delivery. One systematic review and 19 other studies assessed barriers; the most consistent finding was the self-assessed inadequacy of the primary care workforce to deliver genetic services. Additional identified barriers included lack of oversight of genetic testing and concerns about privacy and discrimination. Many gaps in knowledge about organization, clinician, and patient needs must be filled to translate basic and clinical science advances in genomics of common chronic diseases into practice.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association
Show more