Editorials

Offering results to research participants

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7535.188 (Published 26 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:188
  1. S Danielle MacNeil, medical student,
  2. Conrad V Fernandez, paediatric oncologist (conrad.fernandez@iwk.nshealth.ca)
  1. Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3K 6R8
  2. Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3K 6R8

    Is ethically right but not yet fully explored

    Do participants of research trials wish to be offered a summary of the trial results? This practice is being encouraged as a means of demonstrating greater respect for research participants: it recognises the central role of participants in the completion of research studies and avoids treating them as a means to an end.1 2 The International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects stipulate that offering results to subjects after study completion is an essential obligation of researchers (guideline 5, article 7).3 However, many national policies on research ethics do not mention this practice, and few research ethics boards or committees have policies or guidelines governing the process.4 This is mirrored in the low prevalence of offering to return results, which is documented in a wide variety of research settings.5

    A paper by Dixon-Woods and colleagues in this issue (p 206) reports a study in which they offered a summary …

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