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Duty, desire or indifference? A qualitative study of patient decisions about recruitment to an epilepsy treatment trial

Canvin, Krysia and Jacoby, Ann (2006) Duty, desire or indifference? A qualitative study of patient decisions about recruitment to an epilepsy treatment trial. Trials, 7 . Article Number: 32.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Cited 19 times in WoS


Background: Epilepsy is a common neurological condition, in which drugs are the mainstay of treatment and drugs trials are commonplace. Understanding why patients might or might not opt to participate in epilepsy drug trials is therefore of some importance, particularly at a time of rapid drug development and testing; and the findings may also have wider applicability. This study examined the role of patient perceptions in the decision-making process about recruitment to an RCT (the SANAD Trial) that compared different antiepileptic drug treatments for the management of new-onset seizures and epilepsy. Methods: In-depth interviews with 23 patients recruited from four study centres. All interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed; the transcripts were analysed thematically using a qualitative data analysis package. Results: Of the nineteen informants who agreed to participate in SANAD, none agreed for purely altruistic reasons. The four informants who declined all did so for very specific reasons of selfinterest. Informants' perceptions of the nature of the trial, of the drugs subject to trial, and of their own involvement were all highly influential in their decision-making. Informants either perceived the trial as potentially beneficial or unlikely to be harmful, and so agreed to participate; or as potentially harmful or unlikely to be beneficial and so declined to participate. Conclusion: Most patients applied 'weak altruism', while maintaining self-interest. An emphasis on the safety and equivalence of treatments allowed some patients to be indifferent to the question of involvement. There was evidence that some participants were subject to 'therapeutic misconceptions'. The findings highlight the individual nature of trials but nonetheless raise some generic issues in relation to their design and conduct.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Published: 12 December 2006. 13 pages (page numbers not for citation purposes).
Subjects:R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Medicine > School of Population, Community & Behavioural Sciences
Publisher's Statement:© 2006 Canvin and Jacoby; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For further information please click on link at related URL Field.
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ID Code:265
Deposited On:08 Oct 2007 15:02
Last Modified:20 May 2011 18:24

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