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Biopreserv Biobank. 2012 Feb;10(1):12-21. doi: 10.1089/bio.2011.0029. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

Managing the introduction of biobanks to potential participants: lessons from a deliberative public forum.

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1 Department of Psychology, University of Guelph , Guelph, Canada .


Ongoing debate exists around how best to manage the issue of informed consent for research involving human tissue biobanks. However, the issue is well recognized and covered in the academic literature. A related and arguably equally important issue that to date has not received much attention is how best to manage the process of identifying and initially contacting individuals for their participation in a biobank. While many population-based biobanks strive for random sampling of healthy participants from the general population, disease-based biobanks usually need to rely on some sort of referral process to achieve specificity for type and subcategories of disease. There are thus numerous ethical implications regarding the way in which this referral process is managed. In this article we begin by providing a brief outline of the nature of the problems associated with the initial introduction between a biobank and potential research participants. We then consider data from a recent public deliberation on the topic of human tissue biobanking. In these discussions, participants were posed questions regarding their views pertaining to the introduction of potential donors to biobanks, and asked to make recommendations to be considered by policy makers in British Columbia, Canada. Based on these data we conclude that there is general agreement that introduction of research biobanks to potential donors should be conducted face to face, and by a medical professional known to the donor, and depending on donor circumstances, is acceptable during either pre- or postoperative periods. The strong preference for the introduction to involve a family physician should be considered in the future design of biobank contact and consent processes.


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