The adequacy of informed consent forms in genetic research in Oman: A pilot study

Developing World Bioethics 11 (2):57-62 (2011)
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Abstract

Genetic research presents ethical challenges to the achievement of valid informed consent, especially in developing countries with areas of low literacy. During the last several years, a number of genetic research proposals involving Omani nationals were submitted to the Department of Research and Studies, Ministry of Health, Oman.The objective of this paper is to report on the results of an internal quality assurance initiative to determine the extent of the information being provided in genetic research informed consent forms. In order to achieve this, we developed checklists to assess the inclusion of basic elements of informed consent as well as elements related to the collection and future storage of biological samples. Three of the authors independently evaluated and reached consensus on seven informed consent forms that were available for review.Of the seven consent forms, four had less than half of the basic elements of informed consent. None contained any information regarding whether genetic information relevant to health would be disclosed, whether participants may share in commercial products, the extent of confidentiality protections, and the inclusion of additional consent forms for future storage and use of tissue samples. Information regarding genetic risks and withdrawal of samples were rarely mentioned (1/7), whereas limits on future use of samples were mentioned in 3 of 7 consent forms.Ultimately, consent forms are not likely to address key issues regarding genetic research that have been recommended by research ethics guidelines. We recommend enhanced educational efforts to increase awareness, on the part of researchers, of information that should be included in consent forms

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