International Journal of Circumpolar Health (May 2012)

Alaska Native people's perceptions, understandings, and expectations for research involving biological specimens

  • Vanessa Y. Hiratsuka,
  • Jennifer K. Brown,
  • Theresa J. Hoeft,
  • Denise A. Dillard

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 71, no. 0
pp. 1 – 6


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Objectives. Members of racially and ethnically diverse groups have been persistently underrepresented in biomedical research in general, possibly due to mistrust with the medical and research community. This article describes the perceptions, understandings, and expectations of Alaska Native people about research involving the collection and storage of biological specimens. Study design. Stratified focus groups. Methods. Twenty-nine focus groups with Alaska Native people (n = 178) were held in 14 locations using a semi-structured moderator guide. ATLAS.ti was used for thematic analysis through iterative readings and coding. Alaska Native peoples’ perceptions, understandings, and expectations of researcher beneficence, informed consent processes, and provision of research findings were elicited. Results and conclusions. Alaska Native people desired extensive disclosure of information beyond that typically provided in consent and results dissemination processes. Information germane to the motivation and intent of researchers and specifics of specimen storage and destruction were specifically requested. A clear and extensive process of informed consent and continued improvements in sharing results may enhance the transparency of research intent, conduct, and use of obtained results among Alaska Native people. Meeting expectations may improve relationships between researchers and the Alaska Native population which could result in increased research participation. Our findings offer a guide for researchers and communities when planning and implementing research with biological specimens.