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Research on Medical Practices: Why Patients Consider Participating and the Investigational Misconception

Understanding how patients decide whether to enroll in research can help improve educational materials, protocols, and recruitment rates. However, little is known about patients’ willingness to participate in research on medical practices (ROMP), or studies comparing interventions within usual care. We assessed willingness to consider participating in ROMP by surveying 1095 adults in the United States, of whom 834 answered at least one open-ended question about their reasons for being willing or unwilling to consider participating in two scenarios involving ROMP. Most respondents were willing to consider participating in the research scenarios. The most commonly cited reasons for being willing to consider participating included benefit to others and oneself; the top reasons for being unwilling to consider participating included belief that the research was unsafe and an unfavorable view of experimentation. Responses also revealed misconceptions about ROMP among both those who were willing and unwilling to consider participating. Because these misconceptions may present an obstacle to recruiting participants in ROMP, there may be a need for educational initiatives to clarify the nature of these types of studies.  

Key words: research ethics, informed consent, research on medical practices, comparative effectiveness research, pragmatic clinical trials, willingness to participate