Objectives: To evaluate the impact of an information booklet on HIV clinical trials, Clinical Trials in HIV and AIDS: Information For People Who Are Thinking About Joining a Trial, in addition to the standard trial information (SI) on patients' knowledge; understanding and attitudes about clinical trials; and to investigate patients' motivations and reasons for enrolling or not enrolling in a clinical trial.
Methods: Fifty HIV-1 positive patients who attended the HIV clinic at a west London hospital were randomized to receive either SI alone (n = 27) or SI and a 16 page information booklet explaining the principles and procedures of HIV clinical trials (n = 23). A self-administered questionnaire was used at baseline to assess past experience and attitudes to clinical trials (10 questions), knowledge and understanding of HIV treatments (8 questions) and clinical trials (11 questions). At 2-6 months after randomization, a second interviewer-administered questionnaire addressed the patient's assessment of the usefulness and comprehensiveness of the information provided by the SI and information booklet, whether or not the patient had enrolled in a clinical trial and reasons for enrolling/not enrolling, knowledge of specific aspects of the trial protocol the patient was eligible to join (13 questions) and general knowledge of clinical trial procedures (repeat of 11 baseline questions). Changes in the attitudes and scores on knowledge and understanding of clinical trials were compared for the two groups.
Results: In both groups, patient knowledge of clinical trial procedures improved significantly over the study period. The median score increased from 30 at baseline to 35/44 at follow-up (SI only) vs. 24-31/44 (SI plus booklet), but this did not differ significantly between the two groups. However, knowledge of the specific trial protocol was poor [median score 13/25, interquartile range (IQR) 8-14], and there was no difference in the scores for the two groups. The prime motivations for joining a clinical trial were to benefit personal health and to gain access to new treatments. Potential side-effects were the main concern of prospective trial participants.
Conclusions: This small trial shows that, while the patients' general knowledge and understanding of clinical trials improved over time, this was not improved by the information booklet and recollection of the details of the relevant trial protocol remained poor.