Biobanking

Jennifer - Interview 14

Female
Age at interview: 62

Brief outline: Jennifer has taken part in two biobanking studies as a healthy volunteer' the UK Biobank, and a research programme on Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) and minor stroke.

Background: Jennifer is married with two adult children. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

Audio & video

Jennifer and her husband were both invited to take part in the UK Biobank study, a study which aims to collect samples of blood and urine, measurements such as height, weight and blood pressure, and lifestyle details such as exercise, diet, smoking and alcohol from half a million people nationally. By linking this information with future health records scientists hope to make progress in understanding causes and risk factors for many types of disease. Both Jennifer and her husband readily agreed to take part, as they felt it was a good way to contribute to greater medical knowledge. They found it very straightforward to take part, and very efficient (though perhaps so quick that it would have been difficult to ask lots of questions). The only concern was that Jennifer was told her body mass index (BMI) and her blood pressure were on the high side. She didn’t agree with the suggestion that her BMI was high, as she is slim and sporty, and when she came home and did the calculations herself she seemed to be well in the middle of the normal range. With her blood pressure, she went to her GP, and he too found it a bit high, but when she came back a week later and had it checked again by the practice nurse it was fine. 

 
Since then, Jennifer’s husband has had a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke, and has been enrolled in a local research project on the condition. She spotted in a leaflet that the researchers were looking for healthy volunteers to give blood samples and take part in a few tests, to act as a control group for the study. She willingly volunteered, and has also signed up some friends to take part. It only involved one visit, to give the blood sample, take her blood pressure and go through some tests of mental functioning. 
 
Again, her blood pressure was found to be a bit on the high side, and her GP is now monitoring it regularly, but she has not yet needed any medication. If she ever did need medication, she might be willing to consider taking part in a drug trial. She would be wary of being in a placebo-controlled trial (where a new drug is tested against a placebo, and the person does not know which they are taking), but it would depend how serious the condition was. Jennifer also volunteered some time ago to take part in a research project on bone density but after having one scan the project was halted, she thinks possibly because they ran out of funding.
 
Jennifer feels medical research is important, and often misrepresented in the media. She would encourage anyone who is asked to take part to consider it.
 

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