Objectives: Based on an analysis of the potential consequences of disclosing AD suspicions from
respective research and using the research ethical principle of non-maleficence, the authors of this paper argue
for the thesis that the benefits of early AD detection in research outweigh the risk of potential adverse effects
only in cases where studies are conducted with symptomatic people actively seeking for support, e.g. as they
utilize the services of memory clinics.
Conclusion: In the case of non-symptomatic volunteers, the result of the risk-benefit-assessment seems to be
less distinctive. Given that disclosing results can, at least initially, cause severe distress and harm and taking
into account that research examinations have a significantly increased risk of producing false-positive findings,
we suggest to make use of a research-ethical “princple of caution” that supports a restrictive disclosure policy
for the second group of potential study participants. This differentiated view on the benefits of disclosed findings
in AD research is reflected in recommendations for the set-up of return of result processes.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, early diagnosis, mild cognitive impairment, disclosure dilemmas, research ethics, risk benefit
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