Consent for use of clinical leftover biosample: a survey among Chinese patients and the general public

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e36050. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036050. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Background: Storage of leftover biosamples generates rich biobanks for future studies, saving time and money and limiting physical impact to sample donors.

Objective: To investigate the attitudes of Chinese patients and the general public on providing consent for storage and use of leftover biosamples.

Design, setting and participants: Cross-sectional surveys were conducted among randomly selected patients admitted to a Shanghai city hospital (n = 648) and members of the general public (n = 492) from May 2010 to July 2010.

Main outcome measures: Face-to-face interviews collected respondents-report of their willingness to donate residual biosample, trust in medical institutions, motivation for donation, concerns of donated sample use, expectations for research results return, and so on.

Results: The response rate was 83.0%. Of the respondents, 89.1% stated that they completely understood or understood most of questions. Willingness to donate residual sample was stated by 64.7%, of which 16.7% desired the option to withdraw their donations anytime afterwards. Only 42.3% of respondents stated they "trust" or "strongly trust" medical institutions, the attitude of trusting or strongly trusting medical institutions were significantly associated with willingness to donate in the general public group.(p<0.05) The overall assent rate for future research without specific consents was also low (12.1%). Hepatitis B virus carriers were significantly less willing than non-carriers to donate biosamples (32.1% vs. 64.7%, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Low levels of public trust in medical institutions become serious obstacle for biosample donation and biobanking in China. Efforts to increase public understanding of human medical research and biosample usage and trust in the ethical purposes of biobanking are urgently needed. These efforts will be greatly advanced by the impending legislation on biobanking procedures and intent, and our results may help guide the structure of such law.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • China
  • Comprehension
  • Health Care Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Perception
  • Public Opinion*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tissue Banks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tissue Donors / statistics & numerical data
  • Trust
  • Young Adult