Changing defaults in biobank research could save lives too
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- Stjernschantz Forsberg, J., Eriksson, S. & Hansson, M.G. Eur J Epidemiol (2010) 25: 65. doi:10.1007/s10654-009-9413-0
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In an effort to increase the amount of organs available for transplantation, many countries have implemented presumed consent for organ donation. Presuming a wish to contribute to medical advances through biobank research on previously taken tissue samples could similarly improve health and wellbeing. In this article we analyze common arguments for and against presumed consent for organ donation and assess their relevance in the context of biobank research. In spite of obvious differences between biobank research and organ transplantation the cases for implementing presumption of a positive attitude appear quite analogous. It has repeatedly been shown that a majority of the general population supports these projects and selecting informed consent as the default position decreases the amount of organs and samples available and thus reduces the prospect of promoting health. We conclude that instead of presuming that individuals do not wish to contribute to the advancement of healthcare through biobank research on previously taken samples, ethics committees should presume that they do.