Perspectives of surrogate decision makers for critically ill patients regarding gene variation research

Ellen Iverson, Aaron Celious, Carie R. Kennedy, Erica Shehane, Alexander Eastman, Victoria Warren, Bradley D. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose:We undertook this investigation to explore the manner in which surrogate decision makers for critically ill patients perceived genetic data collected in the context of clinical investigation.Methods:Surrogate decision makers for critically ill patients cared for in intensive care units of two urban hospitals participated in focus groups designed to explore perceptions regarding gene variation research.Results:Surrogate decision makers were generally familiar with genetic concepts and reported that they could provide an informed opinion regarding permitting (or declining) the participation of their loved ones in gene variation research. Respondents perceived the risk associated with this type of research largely as the risk associated with acquiring the sample (i.e., whether it involved an invasive procedure or not) but appreciated that genetic samples could provide information not readily obtained from nongenetic sources. Concerns about potential misuse of genetic data largely centered on misconduct, paternity, forensic applications, and insurance and employment discrimination. Although surrogate decision makers expressed that their loved ones would have interest in return of results and being recontacted for future use, these interests were secondary to confidentiality concerns.Conclusion:Respondents perceived genetic and nongenetic data as comparable. Informed consent processes that provide clear information regarding confidentiality protections, specimen handling, and parameters for future use may enhance enrollment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-373
Number of pages6
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • critical illness
  • focus groups
  • gene variation research
  • genetics
  • social science research
  • substituted judgment
  • surrogate decision maker


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