Background: Primary health care receptionists are increasingly expected to be involved in research. However, little is known about receptionists' attitudes to research or health programmes.
Aim: To examine changes in receptionists' attitudes, with different levels of training and support, towards involvement in a general practice-based trial of screening and brief alcohol intervention.
Method: Subjects were 84 receptionists, one per practice, who assisted in the implementation of a screening and brief alcohol intervention programme. Receptionists were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control (no training or support), training alone, and training plus ongoing telephone support. Baseline and follow-up questionnaires were used to assess changes in receptionists' attitudes.
Results: Of 40 items that measured receptionists' attitudes to involvement in the programme, 70% had deteriorated after three months, 20% significantly so. There was no effect of training and support condition. Receptionists' and GPs' attitudes to research and health programmes conflicted.
Conclusion: Receptionists developed more negative views about involvement in research and health programmes over the three-month study period, regardless of level of training and support.