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OBJECTIVE: To investigate people's experiences of and attitudes to participation in clinical trials. METHODS: 42 in-depth qualitative interviews, covering different types of trial and intervention, analysed thematically using a modified grounded theory approach. RESULTS: Many participants argued for a right to participate in research. This may be partly because personal benefit was a common primary motivation for taking part - but the benefits cited were not only personal health outcomes. Whilst most were satisfied with information received, some felt it was too complex. Gaps in understanding were evident, especially around randomisation, but trust in trial staff was high. Desire for feedback of trial results was common. CONCLUSION: Unintended consequences may arise from efforts to give full information and challenge therapeutic misconceptions. People wanted 'enough' information to help them decide, but their definition of 'enough', and the relative importance of written information versus discussion/advice from trusted professionals, varied by individual. In seeking to minimise misunderstanding we stress uncertainty and risk but have perhaps lost sight of the value people derive from trial participation. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Better information on trial availability, shorter trial leaflets and greater emphasis on face-to-face discussion are suggested. Recruitment literature could appeal to a wider range of benefits.

Original publication




Journal article


Patient Educ Couns

Publication Date





303 - 309


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Clinical Trials as Topic, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Information Dissemination, Informed Consent, Interview, Psychological, Male, Middle Aged, Motivation, Patient Satisfaction, Patient Selection, Qualitative Research, Random Allocation, United Kingdom