Seeking Consent to Tissue Banking: A Survey of Health Professionals in Childhood Cancer
European journal of cancer care 2009 Jul; 18(4): 391-400
To identify the views of health professionals working in childhood cancer on seeking consent to tissue banking from potential donors. Self-completion questionnaires sent to 553 UK paediatric oncology health professionals. The response rate was 60%. Respondents (100%) were in favour of using tissue samples from children with cancer for research. A substantial minority (30%) had concerns about the impact of the law on their professional role in relation to tissue banking. Almost all (90%) reported that both the parent(s) and the child, if able, should be asked for consent, though the UK Human Tissue Act provides that a competent child's consent is sufficient. Most (94%) supported 'generic' rather than 'specific' consent. Barriers to obtaining consent included: (1) timing of the approach to families; (2) availability of suitable staff; (3) sensitivity of the issues; (4) difficulties of managing the process; and (5) problems of maintaining a paper trail. Many would welcome training on seeking consent. Personal knowledge and relationships with families are often seen as important in guiding the proper approach to consent rather than formalized rules. There is widespread support among health professionals for tissue banking in childhood cancer. In sensitive situations, disciplined exercise of professional discretion might better deliver on aspirations for regulation than rigid procedures.
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