A review of ethical frameworks for the disclosure of individual research results in population-based genetic and genomic research [Book Review]

Research Ethics 8 (1):25-42 (2012)
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Individual research results from population-based genetic and genomic research are traditionally not disclosed to research participants. Current practices of non-disclosure are, however, being challenged by an increasing number of scientists, ethicists and policy-makers who make arguments in favour of disclosing at least individual results of potential health or lifestyle significance to research participants. Simultaneously, research participants are expressing greater interest in accessing their results. This article first provides an overview of main arguments for and against the disclosure of individual research results to research participants. Next, it discusses the need for a move from the current ethical framework under which researchers operate, which is rather protective of research participants and does not encourage disclosure, to a new ethical framework that would better cope with current developments within the field. Comparative analysis of existing and potential ethical frameworks favours implementation of an ethical framework aimed at enhancing the autonomy of research participants through the disclosure of individual research results. Finally, this article explores practical models of disclosure that could be used under such a new framework. A model of disclosure that takes into account the two key criteria of communicability of research results and the research participant’s preferences to determine which results to disclose is found to comply best with the selected ethical framework.



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