First study to gauge college students' willingness to donate to a genetic biobank

Published on February 22, 2012 at 3:13 AM · No Comments

Students further along in college are most comfortable with biobanks; reasons cited were altruism, desire to advance scientific research and find cures

A majority of college students is receptive to donating blood or other genetic material for scientific research, according to a new study from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

In what appears to be the first study to gauge college students' willingness to donate to a genetic biobank, the study surveyed 250 male and female undergraduate and graduate students.

Among those surveyed, 64 percent said they were willing to donate to a biobank, said study author Olivia Adolphson. Students filled out a two-page survey with 18 questions designed to assess their willingness to participate in a biobank, an archive of blood and tissue samples donated by individuals for the purpose of genetic research.

Student reasons include altruism, while barriers were privacy and lack of time

"Overall I found that my sample was very willing to participate in a biobank," said Adolphson, an undergraduate psychology researcher at SMU. "The reasons cited were altruism - people want to help others - as well as to advance scientific research and to help find cures. The barriers were concerns about privacy, lack of time, lack of interest and lack of knowledge."

Also from the study, students with a family health history of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other diseases were not more motivated than other students to donate to a biobank, Adolphson said.

Adolphson has been invited to present two posters on her study, "College Students' Perceptions of Genetic Biobanking," in April at the 33rd Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in New Orleans.

First study of its kind to look at college students in the United States

"This appears to be the first study to gauge college students' willingness to donate to a genetic biobank," said licensed clinical psychologist and the study's principal investigator Georita Frierson, an SMU assistant professor and health behaviors expert.

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