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PLoS One. 2016 Apr 15;11(4):e0153597. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153597. eCollection 2016.

Expectation versus Reality: The Impact of Utility on Emotional Outcomes after Returning Individualized Genetic Research Results in Pediatric Rare Disease Research, a Qualitative Interview Study.

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Division of Genetics and Genomics, The Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States of America.



Much information on parental perspectives on the return of individual research results (IRR) in pediatric genomic research is based on hypothetical rather than actual IRR. Our aim was to understand how the expected utility to parents who received IRR on their child from a genetic research study compared to the actual utility of the IRR received.


We conducted individual telephone interviews with parents who received IRR on their child through participation in the Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research Gene Discovery Core (GDC) at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH).


Five themes emerged around the utility that parents expected and actually received from IRR: predictability, management, family planning, finding answers, and helping science and/or families. Parents expressing negative or mixed emotions after IRR return were those who did not receive the utility they expected from the IRR. Conversely, parents who expressed positive emotions were those who received as much or greater utility than expected.


Discrepancies between expected and actual utility of IRR affect the experiences of parents and families enrolled in genetic research studies. An informed consent process that fosters realistic expectations between researchers and participants may help to minimize any negative impact on parents and families.

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