Managing misaligned paternity findings in research including sickle cell disease screening in Kenya: 'consulting communities' to inform policy.
Marsh V., Kombe F., Fitzpatrick R., Molyneux S., Parker M.
The management of misaligned paternity findings raises important controversy worldwide. It has mainly, however, been discussed in the context of high-income countries. Genetic and genomics research, with the potential to show misaligned paternity, are becoming increasingly common in Africa. During a genomics study in Kenya, a dilemma arose over testing and sharing information on paternal sickle cell disease status. This dilemma may be paradigmatic of challenges in sharing misaligned paternity findings in many research and health care settings. Using a deliberative approach to community consultation to inform research practice, we explored residents' views on paternal testing and sharing misaligned paternity information. Between December 2009 and November 2010, 63 residents in Kilifi County were engaged in informed deliberative small group discussions, structured to support normative reflection within the groups, with purposive selection to explore diversity. Analysis was based on a modified framework analysis approach, drawing on relevant social science and bioethics literature. The methods generated in-depth individual and group reflection on morally important issues and uncovered wide diversity in views and values. Fundamental and conflicting values emerged around the importance of family interests and openness, underpinned by disagreement on the moral implications of marital infidelity and withholding truth. Wider consideration of ethical issues emerging in these debates supports locally-held reasoning that paternal sickle cell testing should not be undertaken in this context, in contrast to views that testing should be done with or without the disclosure of misaligned paternity information. The findings highlight the importance of facilitating wider testing of family members of affected children, contingent on the development and implementation of national policies for the management of this inherited disorder. Their richness also illustrates the potential for the approach adopted in this study to strengthen community consultation.