Finland <3 Science
Finland boasts an astoundingly high consent rate when it comes to their rate of consent: over 90% of Finns consent to donating their samples to a biobank upon request! Quite impressive, when compared to, for example, the estimated 5% consent rate in South America.
Finns rank at the top of the charts when it comes to trusting institutions and valuing science. They understand the importance of science, and want to be involved in furthering research. The positive Finnish attitude towards research is only one of the reasons why Finland is the country for sample collecting.
Donating made simple
Giving consent and donating has been made easy. Most samples are donated during hospital visits; a patient may be asked to donate already drawn excess blood, for example. Patients may also be approached via an invitation letter to come give a sample. Sometimes, saying “yes” is all the patient has to do to donate!
To make things easy for researchers too, Finland uses a system of personal identity numbers. The system allows the researcher to contact the patient if necessary. The system also allows for highly reliable, completely digitalized tracking of patient health data. The health records include everything from the person’s test results to anything they have shared with their doctors (such as habits, like smoking). The Population Register Centre also keeps records of nonhealth related things, allowing for the study of population trends.
The systems regarding data protection have been perfected to inspire trust in potential donors.
For example, the samples are labeled with codes, instead of names, so donors cannot be identified by the code alone. The codelinked donor information is stored in a secure facility, with extensive measures in place to protect donor information. The donor may also withdraw consent at any time, which helps the donor feel more in control and thus, have a more positive attitude.
Finns appreciate their science
Senior physician and professor of clinical hematology Kimmo Porkka says that he has encountered very few patients with a negative attitude towards donating. The majority of negative attitudes were due to misunderstandings and thus, easily reversible, says Porkka.
But don’t just take our word for it: a major international study (Finnish SUPER study, superfinland.fi) has just been launched in Finland. It aims to collect over 10,000 genetic samples from patients suffering from psychosis. Steven Hyman from the Stanley Center cited Finns’ positive attitude towards research as a major reason for their decision to choose Finland for their research.