BACKGROUND: Research funders, regulatory agencies, and journals are increasingly expecting that individual-level data from health research will be shared. Broad consent to such sharing is considered appropriate, feasible and acceptable in low- and middle-income settings, but to date limited empirical research has been conducted to inform the design of such processes. We examined stakeholder perspectives about how best to seek broad consent to sharing data from the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, which implemented a data sharing policy and broad consent to data sharing in January 2016. METHODS: Between February and August 2017 qualitative data were collected at two sites, Bangkok and the Thai-Myanmar border town of Mae Sot. We conducted eighteen semi-structured interviews. We also conducted four focus group discussions with a total of nineteen people. Descriptive and thematic coding informed analysis of aspects of data sharing that are considered most important to inform participants about, and the best ways to explain complex and abstract topics relating to data sharing. RESULTS: The findings demonstrated that clinical trial participants prioritise information about the potential benefits and harms of data sharing. Stakeholders made multiple suggestions for clarifying information provided about data sharing on such topics. There was significant variation amongst stakeholders' perspectives about how much information should be provided about data sharing, and it was clear that effective information provision should be responsive to the study, the study population, the individual research participant and the research context. CONCLUSIONS: Effectively communicating about data sharing with research participants is challenging in practice, highlighting the importance of robust and effective data sharing governance in this context. Broad consent should incorporate effective and efficient explanations of data sharing to promote informed decision-making, without impeding research participants' understandings of key aspects of the research from which data will be shared. Further work is required to refine both the development of core information about data sharing to be provided to all research participants, and appropriate solutions for context specific-challenges arising when explaining data sharing.
BMC Med Ethics
Broad consent, Data sharing, Research, Research ethics, Secondary use, Thailand