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Conflict of Interest and the Code of Ethics 

Conflict of Interest and the Code of Ethics
Conflict of Interest and the Code of Ethics

Barbara B. Biesecker

, Kathryn F. Peters

, and Robert Resta

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date: 28 November 2020

Conflict of interest (COI) can be defined as a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest (e.g., a patient’s best interests) will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest (e.g., financial or professional gain for the counselor). Although conscious and intended unethical behavior resulting from a COI, most COIs occur at a subconscious level and are a normal aspect of human psychology and behavior. It can be very difficult for any professional to recognize a COI, and even more difficult for highly ethical people to realize that they may be making unethical choices. As such, COI is a critical professional issue that is largely inevitable and, like countertransference, needs to be managed, ideally with the help of professional supervision and/or a disinterested third party. The National Society of Genetic Counselors offers resources for addressing COI and its Code of Ethics provides a professional ethos and guidelines for helping to guide ethical behavior for the practice and profession of genetic counseling.

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