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AIMS: To describe individuals' perceptions of the activities that take place within the cancer genetics clinic, the relationships between these activities and how these relationships are sustained. DESIGN: Qualitative interview study. PARTICIPANTS: Forty individuals involved in carrying out cancer genetics research in either a clinical (n = 28) or research-only (n = 12) capacity in the UK. FINDINGS: Interviewees perceive research and clinical practice in the subspecialty of cancer genetics as interdependent. The boundary between research and clinical practice is described as vague or blurred, and this ambiguity is regarded as being sustained by a range of methodological, ethical and economic factors. The implications of these findings for the "therapeutic misconception" are explored. It is argued that while research participation is seen as having therapeutic benefit for individual patients, the interviewees are not labouring under any misconceptions about the relationship between research and clinical care. It is suggested that concepts such as the "therapeutic misconception" may have less relevance in highly technological specialities that are characterised by a developing evidence base.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of medical ethics

Publication Date





113 - 119


Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, UK.


Humans, Neoplasms, Attitude of Health Personnel, Genetic Research, Biomedical Research, Qualitative Research, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Health Personnel, Research Personnel, Female, Male