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Ensuring equitable access to health care is a widely agreed-upon goal in medicine, yet access to care is a multidimensional concept that is difficult to measure. Although frameworks exist to evaluate access to care generally, the concept of “access to genomic medicine” is largely unexplored and a clear framework for studying and addressing major dimensions is lacking.
Comprised of seven clinical genomic research projects, the Clinical Sequencing Evidence-Generating Research consortium (CSER) presented opportunities to examine access to genomic medicine across diverse contexts. CSER emphasized engaging historically underrepresented and/or underserved populations. We used descriptive analysis of CSER participant survey data and qualitative case studies to explore anticipated and encountered access barriers and interventions to address them.
CSER’s enrolled population was largely lower income and racially and ethnically diverse, with many Spanish-preferring individuals. In surveys, less than a fifth (18.7%) of participants reported experiencing barriers to care. However, CSER project case studies revealed a more nuanced picture that highlighted the blurred boundary between access to genomic research and clinical care. Drawing on insights from CSER, we build on an existing framework to characterize the concept and dimensions of access to genomic medicine along with associated measures and improvement strategies.
Our findings support adopting a broad conceptualization of access to care encompassing multiple dimensions, using mixed methods to study access issues, and investing in innovative improvement strategies. This conceptualization may inform clinical translation of other cutting-edge technologies and contribute to the promotion of equitable, effective, and efficient access to genomic medicine.
This article provides practical guidance for researchers who wish to enroll and collect data from pediatric research participants through online and mobile platforms, with a focus on the involvement of both children and their parents in the decision to participate.
Mobile devices with health apps, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, crowd-sourced information, and other data sources have enabled research by new classes of researchers. Independent researchers, citizen scientists, patient-directed researchers, self-experimenters, and others are not covered by federal research regulations because they are not recipients of federal financial assistance or conducting research in anticipation of a submission to the FDA for approval of a new drug or medical device. This article addresses the difficult policy challenge of promoting the welfare and interests of research participants, as well as the public, in the absence of regulatory requirements and without discouraging independent, innovative scientific inquiry. The article recommends a series of measures, including education, consultation, transparency, self-governance, and regulation to strike the appropriate balance.
Beginning in the 20th century, scientific research came to be dominated by a growing class of credentialed, professional scientists who overwhelmingly displaced the learned amateurs of an earlier time. By the end of the century, however, the exclusive realm of professional scientists conducting research was joined, to a degree, by “citizen scientists.” The term originally encompassed non-professionals assisting professional scientists by contributing observations and measurements to ongoing research enterprises. These collaborations were especially common in the environmental sciences, where citizen scientists participated in counting wildlife and measuring environmental conditions. Later, patient groups began to play a more active role in supporting clinical trials and collecting health records from affected individuals.
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