Objective: In the United States, data from federally funded genomics studies are stored in national databases, which may be accessible to anyone online (public release) or only to qualified researchers (restricted release). The availability of such data exposes participants to privacy risk and limits the ability to withdraw from research. This exposure is especially challenging for pediatric participants, who are enrolled in studies with parental permission. The current study examines genomic research participants' attitudes to explore differences in data sharing (DS) preferences between parents of pediatric patients and adult patients.
Methods: A total of 113 parents of pediatric patients and 196 adult participants from 6 genomics studies were randomly assigned to 3 experimental consent forms. Participants were invited to a follow-up structured interview exploring DS preferences, study understanding, and attitudes. Descriptive analyses and regression models were built on responses.
Results: Most parents (73.5%) and adult participants (90.3%) ultimately consented to broad public release. However, parents were significantly more restrictive in their data release decisions, not because of understanding or perceived benefits of participation but rather autonomy and control. Parents want to be more involved in the decision about DS and are significantly more concerned than adult participants about unknown future risks.
Conclusions: Parents have the same altruistic motivations and grasp of genomics studies as adult participants. However, they are more concerned about future risks to their child, which probably motivates them to choose more restrictive DS options, but only when such options are made available.
Keywords: data sharing; parents; participant perspectives; public release; restricted release; tiered consent.