In clinical research, investigators may learn information about a participant that is not pertinent to the research question but that may have important clinical implications for the participant. Such incidental findings present ethical dilemmas. Although they may offer the possibility of substantial personal benefit to the participant, more commonly they are false-positive findings that lead to a cascade of further testing that presents additional risks and burdens. While these dilemmas also arise when incidental findings are detected on studies ordered in clinical care, the special role of researchers complicates the situation.
Lo B. Responding to Incidental Findings on Research Imaging StudiesNow What?. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1522-1524. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.306