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Incidental Findings in Human Subjects Research: What Do Investigators Owe Research Participants?

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The use of brain imaging technology as a common tool of research has spawned concern and debate over how investigators should respond to incidental fndings discovered in the course of research. In this article, we argue that investigators have an obligation to respond to incidental fndings in view of their entering into a professional relationship with research participants in which they are granted privileged access to private information with potential relevance to participants' health. We discuss the scope and limits of this professional obligation to respond to incidental fndings, bearing in mind that the relationship between investigators and research participants differs fundamentally from the doctor-patient relationship.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty in the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health. 2: The C. Boyden Gray Associate Professor of Health Policy and Law at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Co-chair of the School's Human Subjects Committee. 3: Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Children's Hospital in Boston.

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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