Genetics & Genomics

Decision Making: Approaches and Tools to Respond to Ethical Issues in Genetic and Genomic Nursing

Mary Beth Steck

decision making, ethical issues, genetics, genomics, ethical approach, toolkit
CJON 2018, 22(4), 386-389. DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.386-389

Competent genetic and genomic nursing practice requires the incorporation of various ethical approaches, or tools, into patient decision making. Using different decision-making approaches, which converge to answer an ethical issue, nurses can be confident that their judgment is justified. A lack of convergence can signal a need to reexamine the nurse’s ethical decision-making skills. This article describes four approaches that nurses can use to facilitate ethical decision making, which is a skill that must be learned and practiced; these will then be applied to a genomic case study.


  • No one universal approach or tool can be applied to every ethical issue.
  • Nurses must assemble a tooklit of ethical approaches to assist patients and their families in making the right decisions for the ethical issues they face.
  • When nurses use several tools to arrive at the same decision, they can be confident in their decision-making skills.
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