Are Britons willing to participate in clinical trials and observational studies and which kind?
June 13th, 2023, Janice Fernandes

Are Britons willing to participate in clinical trials and observational studies and which kind?

Clinical trials and observational studies play a crucial role in advancing medical research. However, the willingness of individuals to participate in such cases and the factors that influence their decision remain important considerations.

According to polling data, approximately 38% of British adults would not consider participating in any type of clinical trial. But around another third would think about taking part in a trial – with device trials being the most popular (35%) followed by drug (31%) and then vaccine trials (29%).

Age demographics also show different preferences for specific types of clinical trials among British consumers. A notably higher proportion of people across age groups are willing to participate in medical device trials but 35-44-year-old Britons register the greatest willingness (41%). However, the youngest age group demonstrates a different preference, with over a third of respondents in this category selecting drug and vaccine trials (34% each), and 28% of them considering medical device trials.

When it comes to observational studies, which involve the collection and analysis of data to explore relationships between factors, nearly two-thirds of Britons would be prepared to take part in sleep studies (62%). Nutritional studies (57%) and fitness studies (49%) also garner significant interest.

Those between the ages of 25 and 34 years are more likely to participate in any kind of observational study (as opposed to clinical trials) compared to other groups with around two thirds expressing their willingness to enter sleep studies (69%), nutritional studies (64%) and fitness studies (65%).

Data indicates that British men are more inclined than women to participate in all types of clinical trials, while women show greater consideration towards observational studies.

What factors would motivate consumers to participate?

A large proportion of respondents (64%) indicate that potential improvements to their own health and well-being would sway their decision to participate in a trial or study. Gender-based differences in responses are visible, with 60% of males and 69% of females citing this factor.

Financial compensation plays a significant role in the decision-making process too. Nearly two-thirds of Britons (63%) state they would consider participating in clinical trials or observational studies if their time and associated expenses were compensated. Interestingly, there is no gender disparity in this regard (63% each).

A personal diagnosis with a medical condition addressed by the trial or study would impact the decision of 61% of Britons. Women are significantly more likely than men to participate if the trial or study focuses on a medical condition they have been diagnosed with (66% vs. 57%). Slightly fewer but still over half of Britons (55%) say that detailed information about the trial process and potential side effects would be a factor.

Confidentiality and privacy of personal information are less significant factors in influencing participation, with only 42% of respondents considering them important. Similarly, a smaller percentage (40%) say that interest in the medical topic would be a motivating factor. When broken down by gender, 39% of males and 42% of females cite this factor.

What concerns would hinder consumer participation in clinical trials?

The primary concern which might prevent people from participating in trials revolves around potential side effects or adverse reactions, with nearly three-quarters of Britons (72%) expressing worry in this regard. Other concerns include lack of trust in the pharmaceutical industry (22%) and the possibility of being placed in a placebo group (20%).

While a high proportion of both British men and women are concerned about the potential side effects connected with clinical trials, women are far more likely to express this concern than men (78% vs 65%).

Explore our living data – for free

Discover more health and pharma content  here

Want to run your own research? Run a survey now

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today

Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on June 1-2, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2,097 adults in Great Britain (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, region and race to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Getty Images