Decision aids for randomised controlled trials: a qualitative exploration of stakeholders' views

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OBJECTIVES: To explore stakeholders' perceptions of decision aids designed to support the informed consent decision-making process for randomised controlled trials.

DESIGN: Qualitative semistructured interviews. Participants were provided with prototype trial decision aids in advance to stimulate discussion. Interviews were analysed using an established interpretive approach.

PARTICIPANTS: 23 stakeholders: Trial Managers (n=5); Research Nurses (n=5); Ethics Committee Chairs (n=5); patients (n=4) and Clinical Principal Investigators (n=4).

SETTING: Embedded within two ongoing randomised controlled trials. All interviews conducted with UK-based participants.

RESULTS: Certain key aspects (eg, values clarification exercises, presentation of probabilities, experiences of others and balance of options) in the prototype decision aids were perceived by all stakeholders as having a significant advantage (over existing patient information leaflets) in terms of supporting well informed appropriate decisions. However, there were some important differences between the stakeholder groups on specific content (eg, language used in the section on positive and negative features of taking part in a trial and the overall length of the trial decision aids). Generally the stakeholders believed trial decision aids have the potential to better engage potential participants in the decision-making process and allow them to make more personally relevant decisions about their participation.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared to existing patient information leaflets, stakeholders perceived decision aids for trial participation to have the potential to promote a more 'informed' decision-making process. Further efforts to develop, refine and formally evaluate trial decision aids should be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere005734
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

Funding: This work was supported by personal fellowship award (to KG) from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Governments Health and Social Care Directorates, grant number [PDF/09/01]. The Health Services Research Unit is supported by a core grant from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates.


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