Background: Few researchers routinely disseminate results to participants; however, there is increasing acknowledgment that benefits of returning results outweigh potential risks. Our objective was to determine whether use of specific guidelines developed by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) when preparing a lay summary would aid in understanding results. Specifically, to determine if caregivers of childhood cancer survivors found a lay summary comprehensive, easy to understand, and helpful following participation in a computerized cognitive training program.
Methods: In a previous study, 68 childhood survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia or brain tumor with identified cognitive deficits were randomly assigned to participate in a computerized cognitive intervention or assigned to a wait list. Following conclusion of this study, participants’ caregivers were contacted and provided with a summary of results based on COG guidelines and survey. Forty-three participants returned the surveys, examining caregivers’ interpretation of the summary, reaction to the results, and information regarding preference for receiving results.
Results: Caregivers reported results as important (93%), helpful (93%), easy to understand (98%), and relevant to their child (91%). They interpreted the results as generally positive, with many caregivers endorsing satisfaction (84%); however, concern of long-term implications was expressed (25%). Most preferred receiving results through postal letter (88%) or email (47%).
Conclusions: Benefits of returning research results to families appear to outweigh potential negative consequences. Returning results may help inform families when making future health care-related decisions. There is a great need to develop and assess the utility of guidelines for returning research results.