eHealth provides a novel opportunity to exploit the advantages of the Nordic countries in psychiatric genetic research, building on the public health care system, biobanks, and registries

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Abstract

Nordic countries have played an important role in the recent progress in psychiatric genetics, both with large well–characterized samples and expertise. The Nordic countries have research advantages due to the organization of their societies, including system of personal identifiers, national health registries with information about diseases, treatment and prescriptions, and a public health system with geographical catchment areas. For psychiatric genetic research, the large biobanks and population surveys are a unique added value. Further, the population is motivated to participate in research, and there is a trust in the institutions of the society. These factors have been important for Nordic contributions to biomedical research, and particularly psychiatric genetics. In the era of eHealth, the situation seems even more advantageous for Nordic countries. The system with public health care makes it easy to implement national measures, and most of the Nordic health care sector is already based on electronic information. The potential advantages regarding informed consent, large scale recruitment and follow-up, and longitudinal cohort studies are tremendous. New precision medicine approaches can be tested within the health care system, with an integrated approach, using large hospitals or regions of the country as a test beds. However, data protection and legal framework have to be clarified. In order to succeed, it is important to keep the people's trust, and maintain the high ethical standards and systems for secure data management. Then the full potential of the Nordic countries can be leveraged in the new era of precision medicine including psychiatric genetics.

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