Genomic sequencing technology is increasingly used in genetic research. Studies of informed consent for exome and genome sequencing (ES/GS) research have largely involved hypothetical scenarios or healthy individuals enrolling in population-based studies. Studies have yet to explore the consent experiences of adults with inherited disease. We conducted a qualitative interview study of 15 adults recently enrolled in a large-scale ES/GS study (11 affected adults, four parents of affected children). Our study had two goals: (1) to explore three theoretical barriers to consent for ES/GS research (interpretive/technical complexity, possibility of incidental findings, and risks of loss of privacy); and (2) to explore how interviewees experienced the consent process. Interviewees could articulate study goals and processes, describe incidental findings, discuss risks of privacy loss, and reflect on their consent experience. Few expected the study would identify the genetic cause of their condition. All elected to receive incidental findings. Interviewees acknowledged paying little attention to potential implications of incidental findings in light of more pressing goals of supporting research regarding their own medical conditions. Interviewees suggested that experience living with a genetic condition prepared them to adjust to incidental findings. Interviewees also expressed little concern about loss of confidentiality of study data. Some experienced the consent process as very long. None desired reconsent prior to return of study results. Families with inherited disease likely would benefit from a consent process in which study risks and benefits were discussed in the context of prior experiences with genetic research and genetic disease.
Keywords: exome sequencing; genetic counseling; genetic testing; genome sequencing; incidental findings; informed consent.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.