• Journal Article

Informed consent for biorepositories: Assessing prospective participants' understanding and opinions


Beskow, L. M., & Dean, E. (2008). Informed consent for biorepositories: Assessing prospective participants' understanding and opinions. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 17(6), 1440-1451. DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0086


Purpose: Obtaining informed consent for the collection, storage, and future research use of biospecimens is challenging, as potentially complex and controversial information must be communicated clearly. We gathered input on a consent template developed for the Duke Biorepository from individuals representative of those who might one day consider contributing specimens.

Methods: Forty subjects were recruited from the Durham, NC area and screened to achieve diversity by race/ethnicity, education, age, and sex. Cognitive interviews assessed participants' (a) understanding of information in the template, and (b) opinions about that information. Participants also completed a survey assessing trust in medical researchers.

Results: Interviewees seemed to understand the template. Although responses were diverse, majority views emerged: more than half were comfortable with indefinite biospecimen storage, periodic contact to update information and to inform participants of additional research opportunities, the prospect that commercial products could be developed, and the fact that profits would not be shared. More than half were willing to provide medical record access, although this was a primary concern for others. More than two thirds were comfortable with not receiving individual research results as a matter of routine, but many thought they should be informed of findings with serious health implications. Lack of trust in researchers was associated with declining certain consent options.

Conclusions: Protecting and promoting trust in research is essential to fostering widespread participation in biorepositories. Biorepositories should also devise ways to communicate clearly about the research being conducted and what is being learned.(Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2008;17(6)1440:–51)