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Institutional Review Board Approaches to the Incidental Findings Problem

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are confronted with new challenges in the face of expanding technologies while fulfll-ing their existing regulatory mandate to ensure that plans are in place to protect subjects and to inform them of risks and benefts of research participation. Existing regulations and guidance do not address the issue of incidental fndings (IFs), thus leaving awareness of the issue and the application of ethical principles to IRB judgment alone. In order to assure that researchers are aware of the potential for IFs, IRBs must identify which studies are likely to identify IFs and establish what plans should be put into place prior to study initiation to assure the subjects are appropriately informed of the likelihood of IFs, how IFs will be communicated to subjects, and whether the burden of follow-up falls on the researchers or is the subject's responsibility.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Directs the administrative office for the regulatory and ethical compliance committees for the University of Minnesota.

Publication date: June 1, 2008


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