Impact of Returning Unsolicited Genomic Results to Nongenetic Health Care Providers in the eMERGE III Network

Document Type


Publication Title

Genetics in Medicine

Publication Date





Attitudes, Ethics, Health care providers, Return of research results, Unsolicited genomic results


Health Law and Policy | Law


As genomic sequencing becomes more common, medically actionable secondary findings will increasingly be returned to health care providers (HCPs), who will be faced with managing the resulting patient care. These findings are generally unsolicited, ie, unrelated to the sequencing indication and/or ordered by another clinician.

To understand the impact of receiving unsolicited results, we interviewed HCPs who received genomic results for patients enrolled in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Phase III Network, which returned results on >100 actionable genes to eMERGE participants and HCPs.

Results: In total, 16 HCPs across 3 eMERGE sites were interviewed about their experience of receiving a positive (likely pathogenic or pathogenic), negative, or variant of uncertain significance result for a patient enrolled in eMERGE Phase III and about managing their patient on the basis of the result. Although unsolicited, HCPs felt responsible for managing the patient’s resulting medical care. HCPs indicated that clinical utility depended on the actionability of results, and whereas comfort levels varied, confidence was improved by the availability of subspecialist consults. HCPs were concerned about patient anxiety, insurability, and missing an actionable result in the electronic health record.

Conclusion Our findings help inform best practices for return of unsolicited genomic screening findings in the future.