Ethical, legal, and social issues related to the inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities in electronic health record research
Raspa, M., Moultrie, R., Wagner, L., Edwards, A., Andrews, S., Frisch, M. K., Turner-Brown, L., & Wheeler, A. (2020). Ethical, legal, and social issues related to the inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities in electronic health record research: Scoping review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(5), e16734. Article 16734. https://doi.org/10.2196/16734
BACKGROUND: Data from electronic health records (EHRs) are increasingly used in the field of genetic research to further precision medicine initiatives. However, many of these efforts exclude individuals with intellectual disabilities, which often stem from genetic conditions. To include this important subpopulation in EHR research, important ethical, legal, and social issues should be considered.
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to review prior research to better understand what ethical, legal, and social issues may need further investigation when considering the research use of EHRs for individuals with genetic conditions that may result in intellectual disability. This information will be valuable in developing methods and best practices for involving this group in research given they are considered a vulnerable population that may need special research protections.
METHODS: We conducted a scoping review to examine issues related to the use of EHRs for research purposes and those more broadly associated with genetic research. The initial search yielded a total of 460 unique citations. We used an evaluative coding process to determine relevancy for inclusion.
RESULTS: This approach resulted in 59 articles in the following areas: informed consent, privacy and security, return of results, and vulnerable populations. The review included several models of garnering informed consent in EHR or genetic research, including tiered or categorical, blanket or general, open, and opt-out models. Second, studies reported on patients' concerns regarding the privacy and security of EHR or genetic data, such as who has access, type of data use in research, identifiability, and risks associated with privacy breach. The literature on return of research results using biospecimens examined the dissension in the field, particularly when sharing individualized genetic results. Finally, work involving vulnerable populations highlighted special considerations when conducting EHR or genetic research.
CONCLUSIONS: The results frame important questions for researchers to consider when designing EHR studies, which include individuals with intellectual disabilities, including appropriate safeguards and protections.