Public willingness to participate in personalized health research and biobanking: A large-scale Swiss survey.

Brall, Caroline; Berlin, Claudia; Zwahlen, Marcel; Ormond, Kelly E; Egger, Matthias; Vayena, Effy (2021). Public willingness to participate in personalized health research and biobanking: A large-scale Swiss survey. PLoS ONE, 16(4), e0249141. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0249141

Brall_PLoSOne_2021.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (1MB) | Preview

This paper reports survey findings on the Swiss public's willingness, attitudes, and concerns regarding personalized health research participation by providing health information and biological material. The survey reached a sample of 15,106 Swiss residents, from which we received 5,156 responses (34.1% response rate). The majority of respondents were aware of research using human biological samples (71.0%) and held a positive opinion towards this type of research (62.4%). Of all respondents, 53.6% indicated that they would be willing to participate in a personalized health research project. Willingness to participate was higher in younger, higher educated, non-religious respondents with a background in the health sector. Respondents were more willing to provide 'traditional' types of health data, such as health questionnaires, blood or biological samples, as opposed to social media or app-related data. All respondents valued the return of individual research results, including risk for diseases for which no treatment is available. Our findings highlight that alongside general positive attitudes towards personalized health research using data and samples, respondents have concerns about data privacy and re-use. Concerns included potential discrimination, confidentiality breaches, and misuse of data for commercial or marketing purposes. The findings of this large-scale survey can inform Swiss research institutions and assist policymakers with adjusting practices and developing policies to better meet the needs and preferences of the public. Efforts in this direction could focus on research initiatives engaging in transparent communication, education, and engagement activities, to increase public understanding and insight into data sharing activities, and ultimately strengthen personalized health research efforts.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Berlin, Claudia, Zwahlen, Marcel, Egger, Matthias


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Public Library of Science


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Andrea Flükiger-Flückiger

Date Deposited:

08 Apr 2021 12:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback