Exploring the Role of Shared Decision Making in the Consent Process for Pediatric Genomics Research in Cameroon, Tanzania, and Ghana

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Daima Bukini, Jantina deVries, Marsha Treadwell, Kofi Anie, Jemima Dennis-Antwi, Karene Kengne Kamga, Sheryl McCurdy, Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, Julie Makani & Ambroise Wonkam

Tag(s): Journal article


Background: It is customarily perceived that in Africa, decisions around research participation may be based not only on individual reflection but also on discussions with others. Some authors have argued that such decision making is reflective of a more traditional communitarian African worldview; one critique of such a perspective is that it is lacking an empirical grounding. In this study, we explore decision making around enrollment in sickle cell genomics research in three countries in Africa, namely, Ghana, Cameroon, and Tanzania. Particularly, we focus on exploring the role of shared decision making with regard to participating in genomic studies. Results: We involved 64 participants in 15 individual interviews or in 49 focus-group discussions with research participants in rural and urban Tanzania (n = 20), Ghana (n = 30), and Cameroon (n = 14). We used a vignette to explore decision making around enrollment of children in sickle cell genomics research. Data were imported in NVivo11 and analyzed using thematic content analysis. Our findings indicate that the majority of the participants from both rural and urban settings prefer to make their own individual decisions and not consult with extended family or community leaders. Shared decision making was only considered necessary for individuals who were perceived to be in some way vulnerable. Conclusion: We found very limited support for shared decision making as the primary process for decision making about research participation. While consultation was considered important to support individual decision making, particularly when parents were perceived as vulnerable, there was no suggestion in our data that shared decision making would be a more important or valuable means of seeking consent for research participation in the African research context.

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