Genomic research results and incidental findings with health implications for a research participant are of potential interest not only to the participant, but also to the participant's family. Yet investigators lack guidance on return of results to relatives, including after the participant's death. In this paper, a national working group offers consensus analysis and recommendations, including an ethical framework to guide investigators in managing this challenging issue, before and after the participant's death.
Data are lacking with regard to participants' perspectives on return of genetic research results to relatives, including after the participant's death. This paper reports descriptive results from 3,630 survey respondents: 464 participants in a pancreatic cancer biobank, 1,439 family registry participants, and 1,727 healthy individuals. Our findings indicate that most participants would feel obligated to share their results with blood relatives while alive and would want results to be shared with relatives after their death.
Returning genomic research results to family members raises complex questions. Genomic research on life-limiting conditions such as cancer, and research involving storage and reanalysis of data and specimens long into the future, makes these questions pressing. This author group, funded by an NIH grant, published consensus recommendations presenting a framework. This follow-up paper offers concrete guidance and tools for implementation. The group collected and analyzed relevant documents and guidance, including tools from the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Consortium. The authors then (...) negotiated a consensus toolkit of processes and documents. That toolkit offers sample consent and notification documents plus decision flow-charts to address return of results to family of living and deceased participants, in adult and pediatric research. Core concerns are eliciting participant preferences on sharing results with family and on choice of a representative to make decisions about sharing after participant death. (shrink)