Lauren created videos, including this 3'45" Congress highlights video, of the three day conference, a joint initiative of Connecting Science's Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences, Society and Ethics Research and Conference Centre and attended by over 200 delegates from 24 difference countries.
Respected research leaders from the international genetic counselling world congregated at the Wellcome Genome Campus in October for the first World Congress on Genetic Counselling 4-6th October 2017.
The programme followed the patient journey, with all speakers providing empirical data on various aspects of how we engage with genomics at different stages of the journey. This started with how wider publics interact with genomics as consumers and citizens; we learnt of the expansion of direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies and the wealth of online platforms and Apps where genomic data can be analysed and interpreted. In Australia we heard that the public appear to be embracing these with interest and enthusiasm. We then moved onto the genetic counselling clinic and heard about research showing that what genetic counsellors perceive as important (explaining what a gene is and what risk is) do not fit with what patients want (not interested in the basic science but what to know ‘will I get this condition or not’). Through an onstage debate between two senior genetic counsellors from the UK and Canada we heard how relevant psychotherapeutic models of counselling are within today’s genomic healthcare. There was extensive participation from the audience about mainstreaming communication techniques to the wider healthcare profession. We also explored how and if the process of genetic counselling can be automated and provided via a ChatBot (this is already happening) and how this fits within the classical models of practice. Experience from those genetic counsellors who are leading national sequencing projects indicated that genetic counselling should be able to encompass alternative models of service delivery. The audience had extensive discussion about differentiating between education about genomics and ‘counselling’ about genomics – the former will be done by any health profession (or even a Chatbot), the latter should remain the expertise of genetic counsellors. We also heard about sequencing projects around the world and the experience of genetic counsellors involved with this, e.g. the BabySeq project and sequencing of healthy publics. Finally we were reminded that distress about a genetic condition can be really far reaching and have a long term effect on family functioning – work on family systems theory offered techniques on how to help families needing longer term support.
With members of the audience representing most of the leading professional bodies for genetic counsellors across the world we were pleased that the Congress met an unmet need in showcasing the latest empirical research relevant to practice.
Wellcome Genome Campus Society and Ethics Research (2018). World Congress of Genetic Counselling 2017 Highlights. Available at: https://youtu.be/tsz_mU2as5Q [Accessed: 20 February 2018].