Returning Actionable Results


An actionable result is one that has medical or personal decision-making utility, notably when additional diagnostic or preventive measures are needed or when alternative treatment is available.


  • A Hemoglobin AIC (or HbA1c) blood test, a measure of average blood sugar, is above normal, and may indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • Genetic screening of an individual who has been personally unaffected by cancer returns the presence of BRCA1, a breast cancer susceptibility gene.

Reviewing the Basics for Returning Actionable Results:

How to Prepare and Additional Points to Consider

Man of the considerations for Urgent Results apply for any research result. These should be reviewed in addition to considerations for non-urgent, actionable results. Learn more here about preparing to return urgent results.

Regulatory Requirements & CLIA Confirmation

A research result that falls within the category of actionable must comply with necessary regulatory requirements (e.g., the test was performed in a CLIA lab) in order to be returned to the participant. It can be returning during the study if feasible and unrelated to study integrity and/or outcomes. If it is related to study outcomes or will impact study integrity, it should be returned only after the study.

If the research result will NOT comply with necessary regulatory requirements for return, the research team should consider changing the plan for the initial test or procedure to bring it into compliance.

See more here about regulations that pertain to IRR.