Public Attitudes Regarding the Use of Residual Newborn Screening Specimens for Research
Author/s: -Botkin, Jeffrey R. -Rothwell, Erin -Anderson, Rebecca -Stark, Louisa -Goldenberg, Aaron -Lewis, Michelle -Burbank, Matthew -Wong, Bob
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Many state newborn screening (NBS) programs retain residual NBS bloodspots after the completion of screening. Potential uses for residual specimens include laboratory quality assurance, biomedical research, and, rarely, forensic applications. Our objective was to evaluate public opinion about the policies and practices relevant to the retention and use of residual bloodspots for biomedical research.METHODS: A total of 3855 respondents were recruited using 3 methods: focus groups (n = 157), paper or telephone surveys (n = 1418), and a Knowledge Networks panel (n = 2280). Some participants (n = 1769) viewed a 22-minute movie about the retention and use of residual specimens while other participants were provided only written information about this practice. All participants were surveyed using a 38-item questionnaire.RESULTS: A diverse set of participants was recruited. Respondents were very supportive of NBS in general and accepting of the use of residual bloodspots for important research activities. Respondents were evenly divided on the acceptability of NBS without parental permission, but the majority of respondents supported the use of an “opt-in” process for parental permission for residual bloodspot retention and use. Viewing the educational movie was associated with greater support for bloodspot retention and use.CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the general public surveyed here was supportive of NBS and residual sample retention and research use. However, there was a clear preference for an informed permission process for parents regarding these activities. Education about NBS was associated with a higher level of support and may be important to maintain public trust in these important programs.