Enrolling Genomics Research Participants through a Clinical Setting: the Impact of Existing Clinical Relationships on Informed Consent and Expectations for Return of Research Results
OBJECTIVES To study the consent process experienced by participants who are enrolled in a molecular genetic research study that aims to find new genetic mutations responsible for an apparently inherited disorder. DESIGN Semi-structured interviews and analysis/description of main themes. PARTICIPANTS 78 members of 52 families who had been recruited to a molecular genetic study. RESULTS People were well informed about the goals, risks and benefits of the genetic research study but could not remember the consent process. They had mostly been recruited to take part by trusted clinicians or their relatives but had little memory of, or concern about signing consent forms. Families appeared to regard the research as a continuation of their, or their relatives', clinical care. CONCLUSIONS Ethical review should be more flexible in its attitude to consent forms and written information sheets for some sorts of research. For rare genetic disease studies where research has been discussed fully within the clinical setting then the consent obtained at that time could suffice rather than needing extra consent at a later stage. However, clinician-researchers will need to ensure that their duty of care extends for the duration of the research and beyond.