Integrating stakeholder feedback in translational genomics research: an ethnographic analysis of a study protocol's evolution

Genet Med. 2020 Jun;22(6):1094-1101. doi: 10.1038/s41436-020-0763-z. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Purpose: This study describes challenges faced while incorporating sometimes conflicting stakeholder feedback into study design and development of patient-facing materials for a translational genomics study aiming to reduce health disparities among diverse populations.

Methods: We conducted an ethnographic analysis of study documents including summaries of patient advisory committee meetings and interviews, reflective field notes written by study team members, and correspondence with our institutional review board (IRB). Through this analysis, we identified cross-cutting challenges for incorporating stakeholder feedback into development of our recruitment, risk assessment, and informed consent processes and materials.

Results: Our analysis revealed three key challenges: (1) balancing precision and simplicity in the design of study materials, (2) providing clinical care within the research context, and (3) emphasizing potential study benefits versus risks and limitations.

Conclusions: While involving patient stakeholders in study design and materials development can increase inclusivity and responsiveness to patient needs, patient feedback may conflict with that of content area experts on the research team and IRBs who are tasked with overseeing the research. Our analysis highlights the need for further empirical research about ethical challenges when incorporating patient feedback into study design, and for dialogue with genomic researchers and IRB representatives about these issues.

Keywords: ethics; informed consent; institutional review board; recruitment; stakeholder engagement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Ethics Committees, Research*
  • Feedback
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Research Personnel