Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Attitudes towards clinical research among cancer trial participants and non-participants: an interview study using a Grounded Theory approach
  1. S M Madsen1,
  2. S Holm2,
  3. P Riis3
  1. 1Department of Medical Gastroenterology C, Copenhagen University Hospital in Herlev, Herlev, Denmark
  2. 2Cardiff Law School, Museum Avenue, Cardiff UK
  3. 3Department of Medical Gastroenterology, Copenhagen University Hospital in Herlev
  1. Correspondence to:
 S M Madsen
 Department of Medical Gastroenterology, Copenhagen University Hospital in Gentofte, Niels Andersensvej 65, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark;smadsen{at}


The attitudes of women patients with cancer were explored when they were invited to participate in one of three randomised trials that included chemotherapy at two university centres and a satellite centre. Fourteen patients participating in and 15 patients declining trials were interviewed. Analysis was based on the constant comparative method. Most patients voiced positive attitudes towards clinical research, believing that trials are necessary for further medical development, and most spontaneously argued that participation is a moral obligation. Most trial decliners, however, described a radical change in focus as they faced the actual personal choice. Almost no one got an impression of clinical equipoise between treatments in the trials, and most patients expressed discomfort with randomisation. A patient’s choice to participate was mainly determined by whether the primary focus was on treatment effect or on adverse effects. Both knowledge about and feelings towards trials originated mostly from the media, although paradoxically the media were largely seen as untrustworthy. Mistrust was shown towards the pharmaceutical industry, and although most patients originally trusted that doctors primarily pursued the interest of patients, they did not trust the adequacy of doctors or industry in maintaining self-regulation. Thus, public control measures were judged to be essential.

  • CEF, cyclophosphamide/epirubicine/fluorouracil
  • CMF, cyclophosphamide/methotrexate/fluorouracil
  • DBCG, Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group
  • TEC, paclitaxele/epirubicine/carboplatine

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: None.

Other content recommended for you