Improving the Practice of Obtaining Informed Consent for Biobanking in Clinical Settings

Improving the Practice of Obtaining Informed Consent for Biobanking in Clinical Settings
Laura Arregui Egido, María Villalobos-Quesada
Biopreservation and Biobanking, 29 September 2022
Biobanks form key research support infrastructures that ensure the highest sample quality for scientific research. Their activity must align closely and proportionally to the interests of researchers, donors, and society. Informed consent (IC) is a central tool to guarantee the protection of donors’ rights and interests.
This study aimed to analyze the challenges of obtaining IC for biobanking in clinical settings and ways to improve this process.
Biobank Bellvitge University Hospital HUB-ICO-IDIBELL in Barcelona received 8671 IC forms between 2017 and 2020. The mistakes that caused IC forms to be rejected by the Biobank were analyzed. In addition, interventions aimed at physicians to improve the IC process were evaluated through a calculation of the relative risk (RR). Finally, physicians who submitted samples to the Biobank, most of whom are involved in research activities, were surveyed about the barriers to collecting IC and how to improve this process.
During 2017–2020, 19.6% of IC forms were rejected. The most relevant cause of rejection was the use of outdated IC forms, followed by missing patient information or mistakes having been made by the physician. Evaluation of the rejection rates before and after interventions to improve the IC process suggests significant improvement (27.7% before interventions (January 2017–May 2018) compared to 9.6% after interventions (February–December 2020), RR 0.4 95% CI 0.34–0.47; p < 0.0001). According to the physicians, the most important barrier to collecting IC is the time constraint, and they consider digitalization as a viable solution.
Our research offers a view of the less well-understood practical challenges that physicians and biobanks face when collecting IC in clinical settings. It suggests that, despite multiple challenges, continuous monitoring, training, and information programs for physicians are key to optimizing the IC process in clinical settings.

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