Mobile devices with health apps, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, crowd-sourced information, and other data sources have enabled research by new classes of researchers. Independent researchers, citizen scientists, patient-directed researchers, self-experimenters, and others are not covered by federal research regulations because they are not recipients of federal financial assistance or conducting research in anticipation of a submission to the FDA for approval of a new drug or medical device. This article addresses the difficult policy challenge of promoting the welfare and interests of (...) research participants, as well as the public, in the absence of regulatory requirements and without discouraging independent, innovative scientific inquiry. The article recommends a series of measures, including education, consultation, transparency, self-governance, and regulation to strike the appropriate balance. (shrink)
Precision medicine research is rapidly taking a lead role in the pursuit of new ways to improve health and prevent disease, but also presents new challenges for protecting human subjects. The extent to which the current “web” of legal protections, including technical data security measures, as well as measures to restrict access or prevent misuse of research data, will protect participants in this context remains largely unknown. Understanding the strength, usefulness, and limitations of this constellation of laws, regulations, and procedures (...) is critical to ensuring not only that participants are protected, but also that their participation decisions are accurately informed. To address these gaps, we conducted in-depth interviews with a diverse group of 60 thought-leaders to explore their perspectives on the protections associated with precision medicine research. (shrink)
In qualitative interviews with a diverse group of experts, the vast majority believed unregulated researchers should seek out independent oversight. Reasons included the need for objectivity, protecting app users from research risks, and consistency in standards for the ethical conduct of research. Concerns included burdening minimal risk research and limitations in current systems of oversight. Literature and analysis supports the use of IRBs even when not required by regulations, and the need for evidence-based improvements in IRB processes.
To assist in resolving ethical questions surrounding unregulated mHealth research, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with experts from four key stakeholder groups: patient/research advocates, researchers, regulatory professionals, and mobile app/device developers. They discussed challenges and potential solutions in the context of two hypothetical scenarios involving unregulated mHealth research, including notifications/permissions for research use of mHealth data, data access procedures, new primary data collection, offering individual research results, and data sharing and dissemination.
Researchers now commonly collect biospecimens for genomic analysis together with information from mobile devices and electronic health records. This rich combination of data creates new opportunities for understanding and addressing important health issues, but also intensifies challenges to privacy and confidentiality. Here, we elucidate the “web” of legal protections for precision medicine research by integrating findings from qualitative interviews with structured legal research and applying them to realistic research scenarios involving various privacy threats.