Hundreds of thousands of volunteers take part in medical research, but many will never hear from researchers about what the study revealed. There is a growing demand for the results of randomised trials to be fed back to research participants both for ethical research practice and for ensuring their co-operation in a trial. This study aims to determine participants' preferences for type of leaflet (short versus long) used to summarise the findings of a randomised trial; and to test whether certain characteristics explained participants' preferences.
553 participants in a randomised trial about General Practitioners' access to Magnetic Resonance Imaging for patients presenting with suspected internal derangement of the knee were asked in the final follow-up questionnaire whether they would like to be fed back the results of the trial. Participants who agreed to this were included in a postal questionnaire survey asking about their preference, if any, between a short and a long leaflet and what it was about the leaflet that they preferred. Multinomial logistic regression was used to test whether certain demographics of responding participants along with treatment group explained whether a participant had a preference for type of leaflet or no preference.
Of the participants who returned the final follow-up questionnaire, 416 (88%) agreed to receive the results of the trial. Subsequently 132 (32%) participants responded to the survey. Most participants preferred the longer leaflet (55%) and the main reasons for this were the use of technical information (94%) and diagrams (89%). There was weak evidence to suggest that gender might explain whether participants have a preference for type of leaflet or not (P = 0.084).
Trial participants want to receive feed back about the results and appear to prefer a longer leaflet. Males and females might require information to be communicated to them differently and should be the focus of further research.