Data repositories, like research biobanks, seek to optimise the number of responding participants while simultaneously attempting to increase the amount of data donated per participant. Such efforts aim to increase the repository’s value for its uses in medical research to contribute to improve health care, especially when data linkage is permitted by participants. We investigated individuals’ motives for participating in such projects and potential reasons for their withdrawal from participation in a population-based biobank. In addition, we analysed how these motives were related to various characteristics of the participants and their willingness to permit data linkage to their personal data for research. These questions were explored using a sample of participants in the Dutch Lifelines biobank (n = 2615). Our results indicated that motives for participation and withdrawal were premised on benefits or harm to society and to the individuals themselves. Although general values and trust both played key roles in participation, potential withdrawal and willingness to permit data linkage, they were differentially associated with motives for participation and withdrawal. These findings support and nuance previous findings by highlighting the distinctiveness and complexity of decision making regarding participation in or withdrawal from data donation. We suggest some new directions for improving recruitment, retention and safeguarding strategies in biobanking. In addition, our data provide initial evidence regarding how factors may relate with the probability that individuals will agree to data linkages, when controlling for their unique effects. Future research should further investigate how perceptions of harm and benefits may influence decision making on withdrawal of participation.
- data linkage
- Commercialization of knowledge