Two large-scale surveys on community attitudes toward an opt-out biobank

Am J Med Genet A. 2011 Dec;155A(12):2982-90. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.34304. Epub 2011 Nov 7.


Although US research regulations allow for de-identified biorepositories to be developed without formal informed consent from the patients whose samples are included, it is unknown whether this model will be well-received by community members. Based on early evidence that such a biobank could be successful if patients who object have the opportunity to opt-out, Vanderbilt University developed a biorepository named BioVU that follows this model. This study reports the findings from two large-scale surveys among communities important to this biorepository. In the first, a population-based phone survey of Nashville residents, we found that approval for BioVU is high (93.9%) and that this approval is similar among all population groups. A hypothetical biobank that does not obtain some form of written permission is much less well received. In the second, an online survey of Vanderbilt University faculty and staff, we found a higher level of support for BioVU (94.5%) among faculty and staff working throughout the university. In this survey, employees least likely to approve of BioVU are those employees who prefer not to receive medical care at Vanderbilt University. These surveys demonstrate the highest level of approval for a genomic biobank ever reported in the literature, even among groups traditionally cautious about such research. This high level of approval may reflect increasing comfort with genomic research over time combined with the effect that trust in a specific institution can have on approval for an operating biobank compared with approval of a hypothetical biobank.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academies and Institutes / ethics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biological Specimen Banks / ethics*
  • Biological Specimen Banks / standards
  • Female
  • Genetic Research / ethics
  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Opinion*
  • Trust
  • Young Adult