Biobanks are made all the more valuable when the biological samples they hold can be linked to health information collected in research, electronic health records, or public health practice. Public trust in such systems that share health information for research and health care practice is understudied. Our research examines characteristics of the general public that predict trust in a health system that includes researchers, health care providers, insurance companies and public health departments. We created a 119-item survey of predictors and attributes of system trust and fielded it using Amazon’s MTurk system (n
= 447). We found that seeing one’s primary care provider, having a favorable view of data sharing and believing that data sharing will improve the quality of health care, as well as psychosocial factors (altruism and generalized trust) were positively and significantly associated with system trust. As expected, privacy concern, but counterintuitively, knowledge about health information sharing were negatively associated with system trust. We conclude that, in order to assure the public’s trust, policy makers charged with setting best practices for governance of biobanks and access to electronic health records should leverage critical access points to engage a diverse public in joint decision making.
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