Communicating unexpected pharmacogenomic results to biobank contributors: A focus group study

Karen M. Meagher, Susan H. Curtis, Sarah Borucki, Annika Beck, Tarika Srinivasan, Amal Cheema, Richard R. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The goals of this study were to explore 1) the impact of returning unexpected pharmacogenomic (PGx) results to biobank contributors, and 2) participant views about improving communication. Methods: We conducted a qualitative focus group study with biobank participants (N = 54) who were notified by mail of an individual research result indicating increased risk for adverse events associated with the common cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). We employed a framework approach for analysis. Results: Our results revealed three themes illustrating participants’ questions and uncertainty, especially regarding how to share results with health providers and family members, and remember them over time. Participants valued results for themselves and others, and for the future of medicine. Risk perception was framed by health identity. “Toxicity narratives,” or familiarity with another's adverse reaction to chemotherapy, increased the sense of importance participants reported. Conclusion: These focus group results highlight research participant remaining questions and high valuation of PGx results, even when unexpected. Practice implications: We identify PGx research participants’ needs for clear clinical translation messaging that attends to health identity, pragmatics of sharing information with family members, and patient perceptions of barriers to transferring research results to a clinical context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Biobank
  • Communication
  • Disclosure
  • Focus
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Qualitative
  • Return of results

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Communicating unexpected pharmacogenomic results to biobank contributors: A focus group study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this