Advances in genomics have enabled the development of polygenic scores (PGS), sometimes called polygenic risk scores, in the context of multifactorial diseases and disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and schizophrenia. PGS estimate an individual’s genetic predisposition, as compared to other members of a population, for conditions which are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. There is significant interest in using genetic risk prediction afforded through PGS in public health, clinical care, and research settings, yet many acknowledge the need to thoughtfully consider and address ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI). To contribute to this effort, this paper reports on a narrative review of the literature, with the aim of identifying and categorizing ELSI relating to genetic risk prediction in the context of multifactorial disease, which have been raised by scholars in the field. Ninety-two articles, spanning from 1977 to 2021, met the inclusion criteria for this study. Identified ELSI included potential benefits, challenges and risks that focused on concerns about interpretation and use, and ethical obligations to maximize benefits, minimize risks, promote justice, and support autonomy. This research will support geneticists, clinicians, genetic counselors, patients, patient advocates, and policymakers in recognizing and addressing ethical concerns associated with PGS; it will also guide future empirical and normative research.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.