Patients’ Willingness to Provide Their Clinical Data for Research Purposes and Acceptance of Different Consent Models: Findings From a Representative Survey of Patients With Cancer

Patients’ Willingness to Provide Their Clinical Data for Research Purposes and Acceptance of Different Consent Models: Findings From a Representative Survey of Patients With Cancer
Anja Köngeter, Christoph Schickhardt, Martin Jungkunz, Susanne Bergbold, Katja Mehlis, Eva C Winkler
Journal of Medical Internet Research, 25 August 2022
Abstract
Background
Secondary use of clinical data for biomedical research purposes holds great potential for various types of noninterventional, data-driven studies. Patients’ willingness to support research with their clinical data is a crucial prerequisite for research progress.
Objective
The aim of the study was to learn about patients’ attitudes and expectations regarding secondary use of their clinical data. In a next step, our results can inform the development of an appropriate governance framework for secondary use of clinical data for research purposes.
Method
A questionnaire was developed to assess the willingness of patients with cancer to provide their clinical data for biomedical research purposes, considering different conditions of data sharing and consent models. The Cancer Registry of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg recruited a proportionally stratified random sample of patients with cancer and survivors of cancer based on a full census.
Results
In total, 838 participants completed the survey. Approximately all participants (810/838, 96.7%) showed general willingness to make clinical data available for biomedical research purposes; however, they expected certain requirements to be met, such as comparable data protection standards for data use abroad and the possibility to renew consent at regular time intervals. Most participants (620/838, 73.9%) supported data use also by researchers in commercial companies. More than half of the participants (503/838, 60%) were willing to give up control over clinical data in favor of research benefits. Most participants expressed acceptance of the broad consent model (494/838, 58.9%), followed by data use by default (with the option to opt out at any time; 419/838, 50%); specific consent for every study showed the lowest acceptance rate (327/838, 39%). Patients expected physicians to share their data (763/838, 91.1%) and their fellow patients to support secondary use with their clinical data (679/838, 81%).
Conclusions
Although patients’ general willingness to make their clinical data available for biomedical research purposes is very high, the willingness of a substantial proportion of patients depends on additional requirements. Taking these perspectives into account is essential for designing trustworthy governance of clinical data reuse and sharing. The willingness to accept the loss of control over clinical data to enhance the benefits of research should be given special consideration.

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