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Genomics Forum · Research

Evaluation of Genetic Services

Rod Taylor

Start date



Rod Taylor* - forum@genomicsnetwork.ac.uk

*Dr Catherine Heeney established and developed this work programme. She recently accepted a new post, and administrative matters are now being handled by Rod Taylor.


Advances in genetic sciences hold out great hope for improvements in human health, and the sequencing of the human genome in 2003 helped create an atmosphere in which we seemed to on the verge of a golden age of genetically-based care. But genetically-focussed care will only be a part of a larger context of health services. Given the economic realities of limited budgets as well as the established efficacy of many non-genetic how do we decide where to direct research and care resources to genetic services? The interplay of policy-making and the promise of scientific advances in genetic sciences is the focus of this work programme. Health budgets are limited. In Britain, for instance, the National Health Service has faced repeated budget troubles recently. But decisions regarding health care are not just economic decisions: they have social and ethical implications, too.

This work programme examined how health policy choices are made in the context of economic and medical decisions.


This programme seeks to explore the potential impact genetic sciences will have on health care as well as how policy-making will shape the provision of these services. The goal is to better understand the social and ethical implications of policy decisions on genetic services.

In March 2006, a group of experts in economics, health technology assessment, genetic medical care and health policy gathered to focus in detail on the questions raised by new genetic services and the policy procedures used to evaluate them. The first-stage of this programme culminated in a workshop held in March 2006.

Download Evaluation of Genetics Services report.

Participants noted the important implications of different approaches to genetic medical care (for instance, the difference between genomic and genetic medicine) for policy-making. A survey of British and international health policy-making established the context in which decisions are made. The workshop closed with an extended reflection on the values and inputs that drive policy-making, and the adequacy of how those procedures take into account social and ethical aspects of care. This workshop serves as the basis for further engagement with policy-makers.

The current aim of this programme is to take the reflections and ideas generated at the workshop and discuss their relevance with policy-makers in order to shed light on the social and ethical aspects of policy that may be lost when purely economic reasons drive decision-making.