University Of Tasmania

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Strategies to guide the return of genomic research findings: an Australian perspective

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 18:14 authored by Lisa EcksteinLisa Eckstein, Margaret OtlowskiMargaret Otlowski
In Australia, along with many other countries, limited guidance or other support strategies are currently available to researchers, institutional research ethics committees, and others responsible for making decisions about whether to return genomic findings with potential value to participants or their blood relatives. This lack of guidance results in onerous decision-making burdens—traversing technical, interpretative, and ethical dimensions—as well as uncertainty and inconsistencies for research participants. This article draws on a recent targeted consultation conducted by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council to put forward strategies for supporting return of finding decision-making. In particular, we propose a pyramid of decision-making support: decision-making guidelines, technical and interpretative assistance, and ethical assistance for intractable “tough” cases. Each step of the pyramid involves an increasing level of regulatory involvement and applies to a smaller subsection of genomic research findings. Implementation of such strategies would facilitate a growing evidence base for return of finding decisions, thereby easing the financial, time, and moral burdens currently placed on researchers and other relevant decision-makers while also improving the quality of such decisions and, consequently, participant outcomes.


Publication title

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry








Faculty of Law


Springer Netherlands

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Justice and the law not elsewhere classified

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