Return of Results Policies for Genomic Research: Current Practices and the Hearts in Rhythm Organization (HiRO) Approach

Can J Cardiol. 2022 Apr;38(4):526-535. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2021.10.006. Epub 2021 Oct 27.


Research teams developing biobanks and/or genomic databases must develop policies for the disclosure and reporting of potentially actionable genomic results to research participants. Currently, a broad range of approaches to the return of results exist, with some studies opting for nondisclosure of research results and others following clinical guidelines for the return of potentially actionable findings from sequencing. In this review, we describe current practices and highlight decisions a research team must make when designing a return of results policy, from informed consent to disclosure practices and clinical validation options. The unique challenges of returning incidental findings in cardiac genes, including reduced penetrance and the lack of clinical screening standards for phenotype-negative individuals, are discussed. Finally, the National Hearts in Rhythm Organisation (HiRO) Registry approach is described to provide a rationale for the selective return of field-specific variants to those participating in disease-specific research. Our goal is to provide researchers with a resource when developing a return of results policy tailored for their research program, based on unique factors related to study design, research team composition, and availability of clinical resources.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disclosure*
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Policy
  • Research Personnel