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The ethics conundrum in Recall by Genotype (RbG) research: Perspectives from birth cohort participants

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joel MinionORCiD, Professor Madeleine Murtagh



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 Minion et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Purpose Recall by genotype (RbG) research recruits on the basis of genetic variation. Increased use of this approach presents an ethical conundrum for cohort studies/biobanks: whether to inform individuals of their genetic information and deviate from standard practice of non-disclosure of results, or mask this information at the level of the individual participant. This paper examines the perspectives of research study participants on RbG research. Methods Fifty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted with young adult participants of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Topics included understandings of RbG research, expectations around recruitment and communication of research findings. Results Participants uniformly expressed a deep trust and faith in ALSPAC and considered themselves part of the ALSPAC team. Such perspectives, alongside a limited knowledge of genetics and modest interest in reported research outcomes, meant few participants reported immediate concerns about being recruited by genotype. Conclusion Our findings highlight the responsibility and duty of care on RbG researchers, and longitudinal studies more generally, and the importance of solidarity, reciprocity and co-production in study-participant relations. As such, we consider existing recommendations for conducting RbG research in longitudinal studies in light of our results and speak to recent changes in the approach used by ALSPAC.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Minion JT, Butcher F, Timpson N, Murtagh MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 16/08/2018

Acceptance date: 03/08/2018

Date deposited: 08/10/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202502


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