Reasons for participating and genetic information needs among racially and ethnically diverse biobank participants: A focus group study

Samantha A. Streicher, Saskia C. Sanderson, Ethylin Wang Jabs, Michael Diefenbach, Meg Smirnoff, Inga Peter, Carol R. Horowitz, Barbara Brenner, Lynne D. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


In order for DNA biobanks to be a valuable reservoir of genetic information, large numbers of participants from all racial and ethnic backgrounds need to be recruited. This study explored reasons for participating in a new biobank among primarily Hispanic and African American individuals, as well as their general attitudes towards genetic research, and their views on obtaining genetic tests. Focus groups were conducted with Mount Sinai Biobank participants recruited from predominantly lower income, minority communities. The topic guide included questions on The Mount Sinai Biobank, genetic research, and genetic testing. All focus groups were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis. The six focus groups comprised 43 participants: 39 females and four males, aged 27-76 years, with a median household income category of $20,000- $39,999. Twenty-one participants were Hispanic, 20 African American, one Asian, and one White. Participants' reasons for participating in the biobank included altruism, personal and family benefit, and general curiosity. Although there was evidence of conflation between genetic research and genetic testing, most participants held positive views of genetic research and expressed interest in receiving personal genetic test results. Participants wanted to learn more about genetic research and suggested various venues such as health fairs for disseminating information. Participation in biobanks by racial and ethnic minorities is apparently driven by altruism, and desire for personal or collective health benefits. Participants had generally positive attitudes, limited understanding of genetics and genetic research, and made useful suggestions regarding information dissemination mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • DNA biobank
  • Focus groups
  • Hispanics
  • Motives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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