European journal of medical genetics vol:56 issue:10 pages:529-40
The disclosure of incidental findings, also called unsolicited findings, unexpected results, and secondary variants, is increasingly recognised as an issue in clinical and research genetics contexts. The rise of next generation sequencing methods has only intensified the issue, increasing the likelihood of incidental findings appearing. This review focuses on empirical research on the ethical issues involved. Electronic databases were searched for articles covering quantitative and qualitative research on the ethical issues involved in the disclosure of incidental findings in clinical and research genetics contexts. 16 articles were ultimately accepted for review. Data was extracted and synthesised on the factors that should be taken into account during the decision-making process surrounding the disclosure of an incidental finding in a genetics context. These factors include the possibility of disclosure, various practical and technical factors, and various ethical factors. We suggest the development of a decision-making tree, involving an exploration of the practical and ethical concerns raised by the studies. This is in our view the best way of handling the wide variety of both possible incidental findings and parties interested in the disclosure of incidental findings.