Clinicians’ views and experiences with offering and returning results from exome sequencing to parents of infants with hearing loss
Notini L., Gaff CL., Savulescu J., Vears DF.
Exome sequencing (ES) is an effective method for identifying the genetic cause of hearing loss in infants diagnosed through newborn hearing screening programs. ES has the potential to be integrated into routine clinical care, yet little is known about the experiences of clinicians offering this test to families. To address this gap, clinicians involved in a clinical study using ES to identify the cause of infants’ hearing loss were interviewed to explore their experiences with offering and returning results to parents. Interview transcripts were analysed using inductive content analysis. Twelve clinicians participated: seven genetic counsellors, four clinical geneticists, and one paediatri-cian. Most clinicians were supportive of offering ES to infants with hearing loss, primarily because results may inform the child’s clinical management. However, some expressed concerns, questioning the utility of this information, particularly for isolated hearing loss. Clinicians had differing views regarding the optimal time to offer ES to families; while some felt that families can manage everything at once, others recommended delaying testing until parents have come to terms with their child’s diagnosis. These findings show the complexity involved in determining how ES should be offered to families following the diagnosis of a child with hearing loss, particularly with regards to when testing is suggested.