Communicating with biobank participants: Preferences for receiving and providing updates to researchers

Jessica L. Mester, Mary Beth Mercer, Aaron Goldenberg, Rebekah A. Moore, Charis Eng, Richard R. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Research biobanks collect biologic samples and healthinformation. Previousworkshows that biobankparticipants desire general study updates, but preferences about the method or frequency of these communications have not been explored. Thus, we surveyed participants in a long-standing research biobank. Methods: Eligible participants were drawn from a study of patients with personal/family history suggestive of Cowden syndrome, a poorly recognized inherited cancer syndrome. Participants gave blood samples and access to medical records and received individual results but had no other study interactions. The biobank had 3,618 participants at sampling. Survey eligibility included age ≥18 years, enrollment within the biobank's first 5 years, normal PTEN analysis, and contiguous U.S. address. Multivariate logistic regression analyses identified predictors of participant interest in Internet-based versus offline methods and methods allowing participant-researcher interaction versus oneway communication. Independent variables were narrowed by independent Pearson correlations by cutoff P < 0.2, with P < 0.02 considered significant. Results: Surveys were returned from 840 of 1,267 (66%) eligible subjects. Most (97%) wanted study updates, with 92% wanting updates at least once a year. Participants preferred paper (66%) or emailed (62%) newsletter methods, with 95% selecting one of these. Older, less-educated, and lower-income respondents strongly preferred offline approaches (P < 0.001). Most (93%) had no concerns about receiving updates and 97% were willing to provide health updates to researchers. Conclusion: Most participants were comfortable receiving and providing updated information. Demographic factors predicted communication preferences. Impact: Researchers should make plans for ongoing communication early in study development and funders should support the necessary infrastructure for these efforts. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 24(4); 708-12.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-712
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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