Since the controversy over oytogenetio test results at the Love Canal in New York State, there has been increasing concern about the communication of medical test results to participants in field studies. To identify the range of issues that arise and to present examples of practices that might be useful for consideration, we have drawn from 15 years of experience in interpreting and communicating the results of medical field investigations by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The investigations were qualitatively characterized according to study type and design, substances involved, language used in the notification of results, and the nature of the efforts to put results in perspective. Based on this evaluation, the following recommendations are made: (1) provide a comprehensible consent form, (8) interpret results for study participants, (3) use clear language, (4) be explicit about uncertainty of findings, (5) where appropriate, indicate the need for medical follow-up, (6) provide results promptly, (7) provide overall study results, (8) evaluate the impact of the notification, (9) train investigators in the practice of communicating results.
©1989 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine