The experience of adolescents participating in a randomised clinical trial in the field of mental health: A qualitative study

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BACKGROUND: This descriptive study aimed to investigate adolescents' motivations for participating in a randomised controlled trial (RCT), to explore the understanding that the young people had regarding a number of aspects of the trial design, to examine whether or not they found participation in the trial to be acceptable and what affected this, and to identify whether and how the young people felt that their participation in the RCT impacted on their experience of therapy and on therapeutic change. METHODS: Seventy-six adolescents who were taking part in a large-scale RCT to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of psychological therapies for depression were interviewed at two time-points after completing therapy. The semi-structured interviews, which included a focus on the young people's experience of the research study, were analysed using framework analysis. RESULTS: The vast majority of adolescents found it acceptable to participate in the clinical trial, and many agreed to participate for reasons of 'conditional altruism'. However consent was often given without great understanding of the key elements of the trial, including the difference between treatment arms and the randomisation process. Although the adolescents were largely positive about their experiences from taking part, the study raises questions about whether clinical outcomes may be influenced by participation in the research elements of the trial. CONCLUSIONS: Although adolescents are under-represented in clinical trials, those who do participate are generally positive about the experience; however, careful thought needs to be given to key elements of the trial design and the potential impact of the research participation on clinical outcomes. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN83033550 . Registered on 15 October 2009.




Midgley, N., Isaacs, D., Weitkamp, K., & Target, M. (2016). The experience of adolescents participating in a randomised clinical trial in the field of mental health: A qualitative study. Trials, 17(1).

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