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Most U.K. Patients Support Research Use of Their Tissue

Attitudes align well with legislation passed in the United Kingdom

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A survey of post-operative patients in the United Kingdom has shown that nearly all would support their tissue being used in research, which aligns well with legislation passed in the wake of scandals surrounding human tissue retention, according an article published online Feb. 6 in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

Richard Bryant, from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, and colleagues surveyed 203 post-operative patients at a teaching hospital regarding the uses of tissue removed at therapeutic operations. The researchers note that they had performed a similar survey in 1996 and wanted to see whether attitudes had changed since scandals occurred regarding the storage and use of human tissues without consent, as well as the introduction of the Human Tissue Act 2004, which allows anonymous archival surgical material to be used for research with only the approval of an ethics committee.

The investigators found that 96.3 percent of patients said that they would not object to their tissue being used in research, higher than the 89.1 percent in the previous survey. The question of tissue ownership was divided, with 29.1 percent of patients believing that the hospital had ownership, 23.2 percent believing that they had ownership, 19.7 percent believing that the pathology lab had ownership, and 15.3 percent believing that no one had ownership.

"This new survey indicates that despite a turbulent decade for those involved in human tissue retention in the United Kingdom, public support for a wide range of human tissue-based activities, especially biomedical research, has not diminished and that patient opinion aligns well with the Human Tissue Act 2004," Bryant and colleagues conclude.

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