It is unclear whether the regulatory distinction between non-identifiable and identifiable information—information used to determine informed consent practices for the use of clinically derived samples for genetic research—is meaningful to patients. The objective of this study was to examine patients' attitudes and preferences regarding use of anonymous and identifiable clinical samples for genetic research. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,193 patients recruited from general medicine, thoracic surgery, or medical oncology clinics at five United States academic medical centers. Wanting to know (...) about research being done was important to 72% of patients when samples would be anonymous and to 81% of patients when samples would be identifiable. Only 17% wanted to know about the identifiable scenario but not the anonymous scenario. Curiosity-based reasons were the most common among patients who wanted to know about anonymous samples. Of patients wanting to know about either scenario, approximately 57% would require researchers to seek permission, whereas 43% would be satisfied with notification only. Patients were more likely to support permission in the anonymous scenario if they had more education, were Black, less religious, in better health, more private, and less trusting of researchers. The sample, although not representative of the general population, does represent patients at academic medical centers whose clinical samples may be used for genetic research. Few patients expressed preferences consistent with the regulatory distinction between non-identifiable and identifiable information. Data from this study should cause policy-makers to question whether this distinction is useful in relation to research with previously collected clinically derived samples. (shrink)
It is generally accepted that appropriate documentation of activities and recommendations of ethics consultants in patients’ medical records is critical. Despite this acceptance, the bioethics literature is largely devoid of guidance on key elements of an ethics chart note, the degree of specificity that it should contain, and its stylistic tenor. We aim to provide guidance for a variety of persons engaged in clinical ethics consultation: new and seasoned ethics committee members who are new to ethics consultation, students and trainees (...) in clinical ethics, and those who have significant experience with ethics consultation so that they can reflect on their practice. Toward the goal of promoting quality charting practices in ethics consultations, we propose recommendations on a broad array of questions concerning clinical ethics consultation chart notes, including whether and when to write a chart note, and practical considerations for the tenor, purpose, and content of a chart note. Our broader aim is to promote discussion about good charting practices in clinical ethics, with the hope of contributing to clear standards of excellence in clinical ethics consultation. (shrink)
Growing ties to private industry have prompted many to question the impartiality of academic bioethicists who receive financial support from for-profit corporations in exchange for ethics-related services and research. To the extent that corporate sponsors may view bioethics as little more than a way to strengthen public relations or avoid potential controversy, close ties to industry may pose serious threats to professional independence. New sources of support from private industry may also divert bioethicists from pursuing topics of greater social importance, (...) such as the needs of medically underserved communities. To inform ongoing debates about the financing of bioethics and its transparency to those concerned about potential sources of bias, we examined funding disclosures appearing in original research reports in major bioethics journals. Reviewing research published over a 15-year period, we found little evidence that for-profit corporations are influencing bioethics research directly. Instead, we found evidence that a great number of organizations, both public and private, support bioethics research. These findings suggest that worries about the cooption of bioethics research by a few interested stakeholders are greatly overstated and undersupported by available data. (shrink)
As exome and genome sequencing move into clinical application, questions surround how to elicit consent and handle potential return of individual genomic results. This study analyzes nine consent forms used in NIH-funded sequencing studies. Content analysis reveals considerable heterogeneity, including in defining results that may be returned, identifying potential benefits and risks of return, protecting privacy, addressing placement of results in the medical record, and data-sharing. In response to lack of consensus, we offer recommendations.
:Academic Medical Centers offer patient care and perform research. Increasingly, AMCs advertise to the public in order to garner income that can support these dual missions. In what follows, we raise concerns about the ways that advertising blurs important distinctions between them. Such blurring is detrimental to AMC efforts to fulfill critically important ethical responsibilities pertaining both to science communication and clinical research, because marketing campaigns can employ hype that weakens research integrity and contributes to therapeutic misconception and misestimation, undermining (...) the informed consent process that is essential to the ethical conduct of research. We offer ethical analysis of common advertising practices that justify these concerns. We also suggest the need for a deliberative body convened by the Association of American Medical Colleges and others to develop a set of voluntary guidelines that AMCs can use to avoid in the future, the problems found in many current AMC advertising practices. (shrink)
Strategies for protecting historically disadvantaged groups have been extensively debated in the context of genetic variation research, making this a useful starting point in examining the protection of social groups from harm resulting from biomedical research. We analyze research practices developed in response to concerns about the involvement of indigenous communities in studies of genetic variation and consider their potential application in other contexts. We highlight several conceptual ambiguities and practical challenges associated with the protection of group interests and argue (...) that protectionist strategies developed in the context of genetic research will not be easily adapted to other types of research in which social groups are placed at risk. We suggest that it is this set of conceptual and practical issues that philosophers, ethicists, and others should focus on in their efforts to protect identifiable social groups from harm resulting from biomedical research. (shrink)