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Public Health Genomics. 2011;14(6):346-55. doi: 10.1159/000324933. Epub 2011 May 7.

Public perspectives on returning genetics and genomics research results.

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Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.



The debate about returning research results has revealed different perspectives among researchers, participants and advisory groups with participants generally interested in obtaining their results. Given this preference, policies regarding return of individual research results may affect whether a potential subject chooses to participate in a study. Public attitudes, particularly those of African-Americans, toward this issue have been understudied.


In 2008-2009, we convened 10 focus groups in Durham, N.C. to explore attitudes about returning research results and how different policies might influence their likelihood to participate in genetic/genomic studies. Transcripts were complimented by a short anonymous survey. Of 100 participants, 73% were female and 76% African-American with a median age of 40-49 years.


Although there was general interest in obtaining genetics research results, particularly individual results, discussants recognized many potential complexities. The option to obtain research results (individual or summary) was clearly valued and lack thereof was potentially a deterrent for genetic/genomic research enrollment.


Providing the option to learn research results may help strengthen relationships between investigators and participants and thereby serve as a positive influencing factor for minority communities. Consideration of the broader implications of returning research results is warranted. Engaging diverse publics is essential to gain a balance between the interests and burdens of participants and investigators.

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