Citizens’ Values Regarding Research With Stored Samples From Newborn Screening in Canada
OBJECTIVES: Newborn screening (NBS) programs may store bloodspot samples and use them for secondary purposes. Recent public controversies and lawsuits over storage and secondary uses underscore the need to engage the public on these issues. We explored Canadian values regarding storage and use of NBS samples for various purposes and the forms of parental choice for anonymous research with NBS samples.
METHODS: We conducted a mixed-methods, public engagement study comprising 8 focus groups (n = 60), an educational component, deliberative discussion, and pre- and post-questionnaires assessing knowledge and values toward storage and parental choice.
RESULTS: Canadian citizens supported the storage of NBS samples for quality control, confirmatory diagnosis, and future anonymous research (>90%). There was broad support for use of NBS samples for anonymous research; however, opinions were split about the extent of parental decision-making. Support for a “routinized” approach rested on trust in authorities, lack of concern for harms, and an assertion that the population’s interest took priority over the interests of individuals. Discomfort stemmed from distrust in authorities, concern for harms, and prioritizing individual interests, which supported more substantive parental choice. Consensus emerged regarding the need for greater transparency about the storage and secondary use of samples.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides novel insights into the values that underpin citizens’ acceptance and discomfort with routine storage of NBS samples for research, and supports the need to develop well-designed methods of public education and civic discourse on the risks and benefits of the retention and secondary use of NBS samples.
- NBS —
- newborn screening
- Accepted October 31, 2011.
- Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics