One of the criticisms of traditional qualitative and quantitative approaches to assessing attitudes, especially about complex technologies, is that individuals are asked to give opinions about issues they may have little previous knowledge of or experience with. Therefore, using a public engagement approach known as deliberative democracy, the Center held six Genetic Town Halls across the country on reproductive genetic testing. Each forum gathered a diverse cross-section of citizens and community leaders to discuss reproductive genetic testing. Participants learned about the rapid advances in reproductive genetic testing, heard experts debate some of the challenging questions these capabilities raise, and deliberated with fellow participants about how society should address these issues. Participants debated questions such as: What are acceptable uses of reproductive genetic testing? Should we set limits? If so, who should set them and how can they be enforced? Are we doing all we can to ensure that reproductive genetic tests are safe and effective? What is the impact on individuals, families and society? A similar dialogue was initiated online with 15 discussion groups.
Last updated 5/2008