The preferences of potential stakeholders in psychiatric genomic research regarding consent procedures and information delivery

Eur Psychiatry. 2019 Jan:55:29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.09.005. Epub 2018 Oct 29.


Background: Genomic sequencing plays an increasing role in genetic research, also in psychiatry. This raises challenges concerning the validity and type of the informed consent and the return of incidental findings. However, no solution currently exists on the best way to obtain the informed consent and deliver findings to research subjects.

Aims: This study aims to explore the attitudes among potential stakeholders in psychiatric genomic research toward the consenting procedure and the delivery of incidental findings.

Methods: We developed a cross-sectional web-based survey among five groups of stakeholders. A total of 2637 stakeholders responded: 241 persons with a mental disorder, 671 relatives, 1623 blood donors, 74 psychiatrists, and 28 clinical geneticists.

Results: The stakeholders wanted active involvement as 92.7% preferred a specific consent and 85.1% wanted to receive information through a dynamic consent procedure. The majority of stakeholders preferred to receive genomic information related to serious or life-threatening health conditions through direct contact (69.5%) with a health professional, i.e. face-to-face consultation or telephone consultation (82.4%). Persons with mental disorders and relatives did not differ in their attitudes from the other stakeholder groups.

Conclusion: The findings illustrate that the stakeholders want to be more actively involved and consider consent as a reciprocal transaction between the involved subjects and the researchers in the project. The results highlight the importance of collaboration between researchers and clinical geneticists as the latter are trained, through their education and clinical experience, to return and explain genomic data to patients, relatives, and research subjects.

Keywords: Ethics and human rights; Genetics; Incidental findings; Informed consent; Mental disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Behavioral Research
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Informed Consent / standards*
  • Male
  • Mental Competency*
  • Mental Disorders* / genetics
  • Mental Disorders* / psychology
  • Psychiatry / methods*
  • Research Design
  • Stakeholder Participation / psychology*