Do solidarity and reciprocity obligations compel African researchers to feedback individual genetic results in genomics research?

BMC Medical Ethics 21 (1):1-11 (2020)
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Abstract

BackgroundA key ethical question in genomics research relates to whether individual genetic research results should be disclosed to research participants and if so, which results are to be disclosed, by whom and when. Whilst this issue has received only scarce attention in African bioethics discourse, the extension of genomics research to the African continent has brought it into sharp focus.MethodsIn this qualitative study, we examined the views of adolescents, parents and caregivers participating in a paediatric and adolescent HIV-TB genomic study in Botswana on how solidarity and reciprocity obligations could guide decisions about feedback of individual genetic research results. Data were collected using deliberative focus group discussions and in-depth interviews.ResultsFindings from 93 participants demonstrated the importance of considering solidarity and reciprocity obligations in decisions about the return of individual genetic research results to participants. Participants viewed research participation as a mutual relationship and expressed that return of research results would be one way in which research participation could be reciprocated. They noted that when reciprocity obligations are respected, participants feel valued and not respecting reciprocity expectations could undermine participant trust and participation in future studies.ConclusionsWe conclude that expectations of solidarity and reciprocity could translate into an obligation to feedback selected individual genetic research results in African genomics research.

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