Banking on You? The Level of Public Awareness of Biobanks in Malta

Authors: Maria Desira, Gillian M. Martin

Corresponding: Gillian M. Martin (

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


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

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.

Download Article: