Public trust and global biobank networks

BMC Medical Ethics 21 (1):1-9 (2020)
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Abstract

BackgroundBiobanks provide an important foundation for genomic and personalised medicine. In order to enhance their scientific power and scope, they are increasingly becoming part of national or international networks. Public trust is essential in fostering public engagement, encouraging donation to, and facilitating public funding for biobanks. Globalisation and networking of biobanking may challenge this trust.MethodsWe report the results of an Australian study examining public attitudes to the networking and globalisation of biobanks. The study used quantitative and qualitative methods in conjunction with bioethical analysis in order to determine factors that may contribute to, and threaten, trust.ResultsOur results indicate a generally high level of trust in biobanks and in medical research more broadly. Key factors that can reduce perceived trustworthiness of biobanks are commercialisation and involvement in global networking.ConclusionsWe conclude that robust ethical oversight and governance standards can both promote trust in global biobanking and ensure that this trust is warranted.

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Lisa Dive
University of Technology Sydney