Demographic and prosocial intrapersonal characteristics of biobank participants and refusers: the findings of a survey in the Netherlands

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Research in genetics relies heavily on voluntary contributions of personal data. We aimed to acquire insights into the differences between participants and refusers of participation in a Dutch population-based biobank. Accordingly, we assessed the demographic and prosocial intrapersonal characteristics of respondents who participated (n = 2615) or refused to participate (n = 404) in the Lifelines biobank and databank. Our results indicated that health-related values critically influence participation decisions. The participation threshold for Lifelines was determined by an absence of health-related values and of trust in government. Therefore, considering these factors in communication and recruitment strategies could enhance participation in biomedical research. No indications were found of a stronger general prosociality of participants or their trust in researchers beyond the context of biobanking. This emphasizes the contextual understanding of the decision of participation in biobanking. Our findings may contribute to improving recruitment strategies by incorporating relevant values and/or highlighting prosocial benefits. Moreover, they foreground the need to address trust issues in collaborations between data repositories and commercial companies. Future research should explore how prosocial intrapersonal characteristics drive participation and withdrawal decisions and relate to contextual attributes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Early online date31-Jul-2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2021



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