Background With the emergence of new health information technologies, health information can be shared across networks, with or without patients’ awareness and/or their consent. It is often argued that there can be an ethical obligation to participate in biomedical research, motivated by altruism, particularly when risks are low. In this study, we explore whether altruism contributes to the belief that there is an ethical obligation to share information about one’s health as well as how other health care experiences, perceptions, and concerns might be related to belief in such an obligation. Methods We conducted an online survey using the National Opinion Research Center’s (NORC) probability-based, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. Our final analytic sample included complete responses from 2069 participants. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine how altruism, together with other knowledge, attitudes, and experiences contribute to the belief in an ethical obligation to allow health information to be used for research. Results We find in multivariable regression that general altruism is associated with a higher likelihood of belief in an ethical obligation to allow one’s health information to be used for research (OR = 1.22, SE = 0.14, p = 0.078). Trust in the health system and in care providers are both associated with a significantly higher likelihood of believing there is an ethical obligation to allow health information to be used (OR = 1.48, SE = 0.76, p<0.001; OR = 1.58, SE = 0.26, p<0.01, respectively). Conclusions Belief that there is an ethical obligation to allow one’s health information to be used for research is shaped by altruism and by one’s experience with, and perceptions of, health care and by general concerns about the use of personal information. Altruism cannot be assumed and researchers must recognize the ways encounters with the health care system influence (un)willingness to share one’s health information.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)