Participants' Recall and Understanding of Genomic Research and Large-Scale Data Sharing

J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics. 2013 Oct;8(4):42-52. doi: 10.1525/jer.2013.8.4.42.

Abstract

As genomic researchers are urged to openly share generated sequence data with other researchers, it is important to examine the utility of informed consent documents and processes, particularly as these relate to participants' engagement with and recall of the information presented to them, their objective or subjective understanding of the key elements of genomic research (e.g., data sharing), as well as how these factors influence or mediate the decisions they make. We conducted a randomized trial of three experimental informed consent documents (ICDs) with participants (n = 229) being recruited to genomic research studies; each document afforded varying control over breadth of release of genetic information. Recall and understanding, their impact on data sharing decisions, and comfort in decision making were assessed in a follow-up structured interview. Over 25% did not remember signing an ICD to participate in a genomic study, and the majority (54%) could not correctly identify with whom they had agreed to share their genomic data. However, participants felt that they understood enough to make an informed decision, and lack of recall did not impact final data sharing decisions or satisfaction with participation. These findings raise questions about the types of information participants need in order to provide valid informed consent, and whether subjective understanding and comfort with decision making are sufficient to satisfy the ethical principle of respect for persons.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comprehension*
  • Confidentiality / ethics
  • Decision Making
  • Disclosure / ethics
  • Female
  • Genetic Research / ethics*
  • Genomics / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / ethics*
  • Informed Consent / ethics*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Research Subjects*