Factors influencing patient participation in randomised controlled trials



This study, which formed part of a CSO-funded fellowship, explored factors influencing why patients decide to participate (or not) in randomised controlled trials.  It was nested within the REFLUX trial and involved; a meta-ethnographic synthesis of qualitative studies of potential volunteers' accounts of trial participation; and b) non-participant observation of recruitment consultations and in-depth interviews with people invited to participate in the UK REFLUX trial.

The study found that willingness to help others and contributing towards furthering medical knowledge featured strongly among the reasons people gave for being interested in participating in the trial. Decisions to attend recruitment appointments and take part were not, however, based solely on consideration of others. Rather, they were presented as conditional on individuals additionally perceiving some benefit (and no significant disadvantage) for themselves. Potential for personal benefit or disadvantage could be seen in both the interventions being evaluated and trial processes.    


Sharon McCann;  s.k.mccann@abdn.ac.uk




McCann SK, Campbell MK, Entwistle VA.Recruitment to clinical trials: A meta-ethnographic synthesis of studies of reasons for participation. J Health Serv Res Policy 2013;18(4):43-51.

McCann, S.K., Campbell, M.K., Entwistle, V.A. Reasons for participating in randomised controlled trials: conditional altruism and considerations for self. Trials 2010; 11: 31

McLeer SK, Entwistle VA, Campbell MK.   Factors impacting on patient participation to a randomised controlled trial [abstract].   Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2005; 59 (Supp 1); A8

McCann SK, Entwistle VA, Campbell MK. Factors affecting patient participation in a randomised controlled trial: a qualitative investigation [abstract]. Clin Trials 2006; 3: 209-210.