Constructing "Best Interests": Genetic Testing of Children in Families With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Els Geelen*, Ine Van Hoyweghen, Pieter A. Doevendans, Carlo L. M. Marcelis, Klasien Horstman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Professional guidelines on genetic testing of children have recently shifted their focus from protecting the child's autonomous choice to professionals, together with parents, striving to work in the child's "best interest." This notion of "best interest" allows room for therapeutical as well as psychological and social considerations, and gives rise to the question how parents and professionals weigh up the child's best interest in practice. In this qualitative study, we followed six extended families involved in genetic testing for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Netherlands for 3 1/2 years. In total 57 members of these families were interviewed in depth; many of them more than once. Our empirical analysis shows that the best interest of a child is constructed via long-term processes in the broader context of family and kin. In this context, "best interests" are considered and reconsidered. We conclude that a child's best interest should not be framed as the result of an instantaneous agreement between parents and professionals. In dealing with genetic testing of children, parents as well as professionals reflect on and learn from the processes of generating new meanings of "best interest." To enable professionals to deal with the variety in family life, these learning processes should be documented closely.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1930-1938
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part A
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • genetic testing
  • best interest
  • children, family
  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

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