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Formative research in clinical trial development: attitudes of patients with arthritis in enhancing prevention trials

Abstract

In preparation for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with early inflammatory arthritis (EIA), formative research was conducted to enhance the design of such trials. The objectives of this research were to (1) determine patients’ educational needs as they relate to the necessary elements of informed consent; and (2) assess patients’ interest in enrolling in a hypothetical prevention trial. In-depth interviews were conducted with nine patients. Seven patients were women and all but one white. The mean age was 48 years. During the 4-month enrolment period, only three patients with EIA were identified; six patients with longer duration of symptoms were also interviewed. Most patients were able to express the primary aim of a hypothetical prevention trial presented. Factors cited by patients favouring enrolment were potential for direct medical benefit and knowledge that they would be withdrawn from the trial if they developed symptoms. Factors cited by patients against enrolment were the inclusion of a placebo and general uncertainty regarding treatment required by the RCT design. Pending larger-scale empirical projects to explore patients’ attitudes about prevention trials, small-scale formative research in advance of such trials ought to be conducted.

  • DMARD, disease-modifying antirheumatic drug
  • EIA, early inflammatory arthritis
  • RCT, randomised controlled trial
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