Consenting minors for genetics research and biobanking involves ethical and social challenges. We examined factors influencing participation rates in a population-based biorepository for childhood heart disease.
Individuals were prospectively enrolled across 7 centers in Ontario by using a standardized consent form. Individuals were approached for consent for the donation of blood/saliva (DNA), tissue, and skin from the affected individual for future genomics and stem cell research. Consent rates were compared between pediatric and adult patients and factors affecting consent were analyzed by using multiple logistic regression analysis.
From 2008 to 2011, 3637 patients were approached. A total of 2717 pediatric patients consented (90% consent rate); mean age was 8.5 ± 5.8 years (57% male; 76% white). A total of 561 adult patients consented (92% consent rate, P = .071 versus pediatric). Factors associated with lower pediatric consent rates included younger age, race, absence of complex defects, and location of consent; these were not associated with adult consent rates. Leading causes for refusal of consent were lack of interest in research (43%), overwhelmed clinically (14%), and discomfort with genetics (11%). Concerns related to privacy, insurability, indefinite storage, and ongoing access to medical records were not the leading causes for refusal.
The high pediatric consent rate (90%) was comparable with that of adults. Ethical, social, or legal issues were not the leading reasons for refusal of consent.