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Soc Sci Med. 2009 Feb;68(4):781-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.11.020. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Informed consent in biobank research: a deliberative approach to the debate.

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Department of Journalism, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, QC, Canada.


As acknowledged in the literature, public consultation related to biobanks has been largely oriented to assuring and informing rather than seeking considered input. In April and May of 2007, the authors participated in running a deliberative public engagement event in British Columbia, Canada, which sought to enhance public input related to the governance of biobanks. The topic of the event was 'Biobanking in British Columbia (BC)' and at the event a random-digit dialed demographically stratified sample of 21 participants deliberated on what values and interests ought to be considered in the regulation and use of biobanks for health research. In this paper, we report results related to debate over the place of informed consent in biobank research. Drawing on a pre/post-survey and qualitative analysis of event transcripts, we show that participants indicated strong support for biobanks, for a general reduction in concern for withdrawal of samples, and placed a strong emphasis on the need for review of biobanks research that is independent of funders and researchers. In this context, there was persistent disagreement about when consent was required for new research activities.

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