BACKGROUND: There has been little research to investigate whether the appearance of paper patient information leaflets (PILs) used to describe research studies to potential participants influences their decision to take part. Embedding a study within a trial (SWAT) is an efficient way of answering this type of methodological question. We included a randomised SWAT within a large cohort study, Outcome Monitoring after Cardiac Surgery (OMACS), to address this question.
METHODS: Potential participants for the OMACS study were randomised to receive one of three PILs, which were identical in content but with varying formatting and use of colour: PIL A (enhanced format), PIL B (hybrid format) and PIL C (standard format). Consent to OMACS was the primary outcome. Consent rates using the three different PIL formats were collected and compared. Qualitative feedback on the different formats was obtained from a public and patient involvement (PPI) group.
RESULTS: For the SWAT, 1517 PILs were sent to potential participants, of whom 640 (42%) consented to take part in OMACS. PIL B had the highest recruitment rate, with 45% of patients consenting to participation; 40% and 41% of patients consented to participation after receiving PILs A and C, respectively. Compared to PIL C, the consent rate was 4% higher with PIL B (45% versus 41%, 95% confidence interval (CI) -2% to + 10%, p = 0.16) and 1% lower with PIL A (40% versus 41%, 95% CI - 7% to + 5%, p = 0.72).
CONCLUSIONS: Consent rates were similar for all three PIL formats. PIL B is being used for the remainder of the host study and will be used to inform the design of PILs for other research studies, as it was the preferred format of the PPI group.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Clinical Trials Registry, ISRCTN90204321. Registered on 21 January 2015.
- BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)
- Patient information leaflet
- study within a study