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Factors That Influence Women's Decisions About Whether to Participate in Research: An Exploratory Study

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Background: Women are increasingly being asked to consider participating in medical research. We sought to investigate views of women who participated in and declined to participate in a study that was part of a program of maternity care research. Methods: An exploratory study using focus group interviews and semistructured interviews was conducted. A purposive sample of 17 postnatal women who had participated in research, from a hospital in the North West of England, were interviewed. An open coding mechanism to identify emergent themes was used for the analysis of data. Results: Of women who had not declined to participate in any research, the following themes were identified: altruism versus self‐protection, enhanced versus inferior care, professional guidance versus self‐direction, and welcome versus unacceptable methodology. Of women who had participated in some research but declined to participate in other research, the following themes were identified: feeling disempowered by the process, inability to believe equipoise existed, and practical inconvenience. Conclusions: These findings suggest that although health care researchers adopt an individualistic approach to care, they may fail to adopt a similar approach within research. What is important and acceptable to women needs to be ascertained to develop appropriate research strategies. This plan will ensure that research is carried out to the highest ethical standard, which may increase recruitment rates.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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