Edinburgh Imaging

MSc projects 1415 002

Guidelines & frameworks for management of incidental findings in neuroimaging research in Australia – 2015.

  • Background: Incidental Findings (IFs) in neuroimaging research raise ethical issues which are dealt with variably at institutional, national and international levels. We investigated the current state of IF management in neuroimaging in Australia.  
  • Methods: We searched the literature for neuroimaging studies performed on humans in Australia. We evaluated this literature for statements about study subject recruitment, specifically with regards to informed consent and the management of IFs. We contacted all the Australian groups we identified, and requested each complete a questionnaire about informed consent and management of IFs. We also evaluated Australian bioethics board policy on IFs in order to relate national policy back to local practice.
  • Results: Our literature search found 19 relevant Australian groups. Only 8 returned completed questionnaires. Approaches to informed consent and management of IFs was heterogeneous. Indeed our groups of researchers within one institute had different policies. Publications we identified stated policies to varying degrees, including making no statement at all and / or not referring to any standard policy. We found that the Australian bioethics board currently describes no guidelines or procedures for dealing with IFs. It did recognize that this is an area for guideline development, and advises groups develop local policy based on international guidelines.
  • Discussion: Policy in Australia around IFs management is variable at institutional levels, and no guidelines exist at the national level. Australian guidelines and policies in line with international precedents would likely benefit neuroimaging research groups, and ensure research study participants are consistently and appropriately informed and managed in the context of IFs.
Project type:
  • Questionnaire with data collection & analysis
  • Systematic review
Imaging keywords:  
Application / disease keywords:  
  • 14-15