Expression of therapeutic misconception amongst Egyptians: a qualitative pilot study

BMC Med Ethics. 2009 Jun 30:10:7. doi: 10.1186/1472-6939-10-7.


Background: Studies have shown that research participants fail to appreciate the difference between research and medical care, labeling such phenomenon as a "therapeutic misconception" (TM). Since research activity involving human participants is increasing in the Middle East, qualitative research investigating aspects of TM is warranted. Our objective was to assess for the existence of therapeutic misconception amongst Egyptians.

Methods: Study Tool: We developed a semi-structured interview guide to elicit the knowledge, attitudes, and perspectives of Egyptians regarding medical research.

Setting: We recruited individuals from the outpatient settings (public and private) at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.

Analysis: Interviews were taped, transcribed, and translated. We analyzed the content of the transcribed text to identify the presence of a TM, defined in one of two ways: TM1 = inaccurate beliefs about how individualized care can be compromised by the procedures in the research and TM2 = inaccurate appraisal of benefit obtained from the research study.

Results: Our findings showed that a majority of participants (11/15) expressed inaccurate beliefs regarding the degree with which individualized care will be maintained in the research setting (TM1) and a smaller number of participants (5/15) manifested an unreasonable belief in the likelihood of benefits to be obtained from a research study (TM2). A total of 12 of the 15 participants were judged to have expressed a TM on either one of these bases.

Conclusion: The presence of TM is not uncommon amongst Egyptian individuals. We recommend further qualitative studies investigating aspects of TM involving a larger sample size distinguished by different types of illnesses and socio-economic variables, as well as those who have and have not participated in clinical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Comprehension*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Egypt
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design
  • Research Subjects* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires