Barriers to participation in biosampling-based translational research: A cross-sectional survey of Canadian critical care researchers

PLoS One. 2024 May 17;19(5):e0303304. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0303304. eCollection 2024.


Background and objective: Collection of biosamples for translational research studies is vital for understanding biological pathways, discovering disease-related biomarkers, and identifying novel therapeutic targets. However, a lack of infrastructure for sample procurement, processing, storage, and shipping may hinder the ability of clinical research units to effectively engage in translational research. The purpose of this study was to identify the barriers to biosampling-based translational research in the critical care setting in Canada.

Methods: We administered an online survey to members of the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group (CCCTG), the Canadian Critical Care Translational Biology Group (CCCTBG), and the Canadian Critical Care Research Coordinators Group (CCCRCG). The survey focused on participants' personal experience of biosampling research, research infrastructure, motivating factors, and perceived barriers.

Results: We received 59 responses from 31 sites, including 6 community intensive care unit (ICU) sites. The overall response rate was 11.3%. The majority of respondents were research coordinators (44%), followed by clinician-investigators (33.8%), graduate students (10.2%), and PhD-investigators (8.5%). Although most (63.8%) respondents reported an interest in participating in translational research, they also reported that their ICUs were currently contributing to a third of the number of translational studies compared to clinical studies. For respondents with experience in participating in translational research studies, the most common barriers were lack of funding, lack of time, and insufficient research staff. For respondents without previous experience, the perceived facilitators were more interest from their research group, improved training/mentorship, increased funding, and better access to laboratory equipment.

Conclusions: Our survey found that the majority of participants were interested in and recognize the value of participating in biosampling-based translational research but lacked funding, time, and research personnel trained in biosampling protocols. Our survey also identified factors that might encourage participation at new sites. Addressing these barriers will be a key step towards increasing translational research capacity across Canada.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Critical Care*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Research Personnel*
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*

Grants and funding

Canadian Network of COVID-19 Clinical Trials Networks (to Erblin Cani). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.