Informing egg donors of the potential for embryonic research: a survey of consent forms from U.S. in vitro fertilization clinics

Capsule:
We analyzed 66 in vitro fertilization clinics’ egg donor consent forms for information related to potential research on resultant embryos and found that most forms lack such information.

Authors:
Gerald Owen Schaefer, B.A., Ninet Sinaii, Ph.D., M.P.H., Christine Grady, M.S.N., Ph.D.
Volume 97, Issue 2 , Pages 427-433, February 2012

Objective:
To understand whether and to what extent U.S. IVF clinics inform egg donors that resultant embryos initially intended to be implanted for reproductive purposes may in fact be used for research instead.

Design:
Four hundred seventy U.S. IVF clinics were asked to respond to a questionnaire and provide a copy of the egg donor consent form(s) used at the clinic.

Setting:
Four hundred seventy U.S. IVF clinics listed in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database; only forms from clinics that both accepted donor eggs and provided excess embryos for research were analyzed for content.

Patient(s):
Not applicable.

Intervention(s):
Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Responses to the questionnaire, demographic data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database, and the content of egg donor consent forms.

Result(s):
Of 222 U.S. IVF clinics that responded to our query, 100 clinics both accepted donor eggs and provided some excess embryos for research. We received 66 consent forms from these 100 clinics, which showed that although most egg donor consent forms inform donors that they will not have control over embryos resulting from their eggs, 30% inform them that some embryos may be used for research, and even fewer mention stem cell research.

Conclusion(s):
Egg donors in the United States, including some who may have a moral objection to research and stem cell research, are not being informed that embryos created with their donated eggs may in fact be used for these purposes. This can be corrected with the inclusion of succinct, nontechnical language in egg donor consent forms.

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