Patient priorities for fulfilling the principle of respect in research: findings from a modified Delphi study

Stephanie A. Kraft*, Devan M. Duenas, Seema K. Shah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Standard interpretations of the ethical principle of respect for persons have not incorporated the views and values of patients, especially patients from groups underrepresented in research. This limits the ability of research ethics scholarship, guidance, and oversight to support inclusive, patient-centered research. This study aimed to identify the practical approaches that patients in community-based settings value most for conveying respect in genomics research. Methods: We conducted a 3-round, web-based survey using the modified Delphi technique to identify areas of agreement among English-speaking patients at primary care clinics in Washington State and Idaho who had a personal or family history of cancer. In Round 1, respondents rated the importance of 17 items, identified in prior qualitative work, for feeling respected. In Round 2, respondents re-rated each item after reviewing overall group ratings. In Round 3, respondents ranked a subset of the 8 most highly rated items. We calculated each item’s mean and median rankings in Round 3 to identify which approaches were most important for feeling respected in research. Results: Forty-one patients consented to the survey, 21 (51%) completed Round 1, and 18 (86% of Round 1) completed each of Rounds 2 and 3. Two sets of rankings were excluded from analysis as speed of response suggested they had not completed the Round 3 ranking task. Respondents prioritized provision of study information to support decision-making (mean ranking 2.6 out of 8; median ranking 1.5) and interactions with research staff characterized by kindness, patience, and a lack of judgment (mean ranking 2.8; median ranking 2) as the most important approaches for conveying respect. Conclusions: Informed consent and interpersonal interactions are key ways that research participants experience respect. These can be supported by other approaches to respecting participants, especially when consent and/or direct interactions are infeasible. Future work should continue to engage with patients in community-based settings to identify best practices for research without consent and examine unique perspectives across clinical and demographic groups in different types of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number73
JournalBMC Medical Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Participant perspectives
  • Research ethics
  • Respect for persons
  • Trustworthiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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