Consent process for US-based family reference DNA samples

Sara Katsanis*, Lindsey Snyder, Kelly Arnholt, Amy Z. Mundorff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


DNA collection from family members of the missing is a tenet for missing persons’ and mass fatality investigations. Procedures for consenting family members are disparate, depending on the context supporting the reason for sample collection. While guidelines and best practices have been developed for handling mass fatalities and for identification of the missing, these guidelines do not address standard consent practices for living family members of potential victims. We examined the relevant U.S. laws, international guidelines and best practices, sampled consent forms currently used for DNA collection of family members, and drafted model language for a consent form to communicate the required and recommended information. We modeled the consent form on biobank consenting practices and tested the consent language among students and the general population for constructive feedback and readability. We also asked respondents to consider the options for DNA collection and either hypothetically agree or disagree. The model language presented here highlights information important to relay in consent processes and can serve as a foundation for future consent practices in mass fatalities and missing persons’ investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • DNA identification
  • Disaster victim identification
  • Family reference samples
  • Informed consent
  • Mass disaster
  • Mass fatalities
  • Missing persons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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