Objective: As sequencing of the human genome is completed, there is a need for population-based research to assess frequencies of genetic variants and their associations with human diseases. The authors therefore assessed the current climate regarding the donation and storage of blood for genetic research.
Methods: Data from the American Healthstyles Survey fo health attitudes and behavior were examined. In the 1998 survey, four questions regarding blood donation and storage for genetic research were posed to the participants.
Results: Of 3,130 participants, 2,621 (84%) completed these questions. Of the respondents, 42% were in favor of both blood donation and long-term storage for genetic research, 37% were in favor of either blood donation or storage but not both and 21% were not willing to donate blood or have it stored for genetic research under any circumstances. Loglinear analysis demonstrated that the characteristics of respondents who favored blood donation and long-term storage for genetic research were attitudinal; specifically, those believing that genetic research will prevent disease [odds ratio (OR) 2.9; p<0.001]; those believing in genetic determinism (OR 1.5; p=0.004) and those agreeing they would participate in government research (OR 2.9; p<0.001). The model also demonstrated that characteristics indirectly associated with attitudes toward blood donation/storage for genetic research were demographic and included higher education, white race, living in the Mountain/Pacific or mid-Atlantic regions of the United States and positive family history of a genetic disorder (p<0.05).
Conclusion: Understanding the various factors contributing to knowledge, attitudes and behavior regarding the donation and storage of blood specimens for genetic research will contribute to future actions in communication genetic research goals to the public and recruitment for population-based genetic studies.