Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The trait of participating in a genetic study probably has a genetic component. Identifying this component is difficult as we cannot compare genetic information of participants with nonparticipants directly, the latter being unavailable. Here, we show that alleles that are more common in participants than nonparticipants would be further enriched in genetic segments shared by two related participants. Genome-wide analysis was performed by comparing allele frequencies in shared and not-shared genetic segments of first-degree relative pairs of the UK Biobank. In nonoverlapping samples, a polygenic score constructed from that analysis is significantly associated with educational attainment, body mass index and being invited to a dietary study. The estimated correlation between the genetic components underlying participation in UK Biobank and educational attainment is estimated to be 36.6%-substantial but far from total. Taking participation behaviour into account would improve the analyses of the study data, including those of health traits.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Genet

Publication Date