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Xjenza Online Vol. 6 Iss. 2 - December 2018
Banking on You? The Level of Public Awareness of Biobanks in Malta

Authors: Maria Desira, Gillian M. Martin

Corresponding: Gillian M. Martin (gillian.martin@um.edu.mt)

Keywords: Biobanks, biomedical research, participants, knowledge, perceptions

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2018.2.04

Issue: Xjenza Online Vol. 6 Iss. 2 - December 2018

Abstract:
This paper explores the level of awareness of the Maltese general public in relation to the existence and use of biobanks as resources for biomedical and genomic research. Using a quantitative research design, a four question survey was administered face-toface to a random stratified quota sample (n = 387) of the Maltese population. The survey assessed whether the general public understands what a biobank is, and what the people believe/ think a biobank might be. Results show that the overwhelming majority of the public is not aware of the term ‘biobank’, and when asked to think about what a biobank could be, the majority of these failed to give an accurate answer, with a financial institution being the most frequent suggestion. This said, 26.5% of those who initially claimed that they did not know what a biobank is (or claimed they were not sure) went on to give a legitimate response when asked to speculate about what a biobank could be. Most of these respondents mentioned biobanks which store gametes and/or embryos and biobanks which store blood and organs for the purpose of donation. Whilst gender does not seem to be a significant factor in the outcome as an independant variable, educational achievement did have an influence on the accuracy of the responses. The key finding is that only 2.3% of the Maltese population promptly associated the term ‘biobank’ with a facility for storing tissue for the purpose of biomedical research, while the vast majority believed it referred to a financial institution.