Information giving in clinical trials: the views of medical researchers

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    It is both an ethical and a legal requirement that patients who participate in clinical trials must generally give their consent. As part of this process, patients must be provided with adequate information to enable them to decide whether or not to take part. In the UK, the pharmaceutical companies that sponsor such research, as well as Local Research Ethics Committees, specify in detail the information that must be given to trial participants. The researchers who conduct clinical trials inevitably form views on the amount of information they are required to provide, and about patients’ comprehension of that information. The literature in this area suggests that some medical researchers may be unhappy with the amount of information that they must give patient participants. There have been, however, few systematic attempts to determine their views. This paper reports a study that explored researchers’ views as to (i) the amount of information provided to trial participants, and (ii) participants’ understanding of that information. Researchers generally felt that they were required to give trial participants an appropriate amount of information, and that most patients had at least a reasonable understanding of key aspects of the clinical trials’ process. However, there were differing views as to the level of information that they felt patients themselves wanted. The researchers did not generally feel that the patients’ inability to comprehend information rendered the process of obtaining ‘informed consent’ a waste of time. However, some did believe that they were required to burden patients with excessive information.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-111
    Number of pages11
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003


    • Clinical trials
    • Informed consent
    • Medical ethics


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