Contrasting the ethical perspectives of biospecimen research among individuals with familial risk for hereditary cancer and biomedical researchers: implications for researcher training

Genet Test Mol Biomarkers. 2014 Jul;18(7):467-73. doi: 10.1089/gtmb.2013.0461. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


While ethical concerns about participating in biospecimen research have been previously identified, few studies have reported the concerns among individuals with familial risk for hereditary cancer (IFRs). At the same time, biomedical researchers often lack training in discussing such concerns to potential donors. This study explores IFRs' and biomedical researchers' perceptions of ethical concerns about participating in biobanking research. In separate focus groups, IFRs and biomedical researchers participated in 90-min telephone focus groups. Focus group questions centered on knowledge about laws that protect the confidentiality of biospecimen donors, understanding of informed consent and study procedures, and preferences for being recontacted about potential incidental discovery and also study results. A total of 40 IFRs and 32 biomedical researchers participated in the focus groups. Results demonstrated discrepancies between the perceptions of IFRs and researchers. IFRs' concerns centered on health information protection; potential discrimination by insurers and employers; and preferences for being recontacted upon discovery of gene mutations or to communicate study results. Researchers perceived that participants understood laws protecting donors' privacy and (detailed study information outlined in the informed consent process), study outcomes were used to create a training tool kit to increase researchers' understanding of IFRs' concerns about biobanking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Research Personnel / education*
  • Young Adult