Perceived benefits and risks of participation in a clinical trial for Ugandan children with sickle cell anemia

Aubri S. Carman, Casey Sautter, Juliana N. Anyanwu, Andrew S. Ssemata, Robert Opoka, Russell E. Ware, Joseph Rujumba, Chandy C. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Understanding factors that affect the decisions of caregivers of African children to enroll their children in clinical trials would lead to more fully informed consent.


During the NOHARM study (NCT 01976416), a placebo-controlled clinical trial of hydroxyurea for Ugandan children with sickle cell anemia (SCA), 206 caregivers were given a semistructured questionnaire about factors that influenced participation in the study and their perceptions of study benefits and risks. Factors were further assessed with focus group discussions.


Caregivers identified education provided during the recruitment process (44%), the child's current poor state of health (35%), and the possibility of improvement in the child's health (16%) as their primary initial reasons for deciding to participate in the NOHARM trial. Concerns regarding the drug or participation in a research study, including the stated concern of death by several caregivers, were outweighed by the possibility of improvement in the child's health. During the study, 72% of caregivers cited improved health as an advantage of study participation, while disadvantages cited included the potential side effects of hydroxyurea, most of which did not occur during the trial.


Our study findings highlight the generally poor state of health of Ugandan children with SCA, the desperation by caregivers for anything that could improve the child's health, and the inevitable improvements in care that result from strict adherence to a study protocol, even a protocol based on local guidelines. Studies in this vulnerable population must be careful not to portray improved care as a primary incentive for participation.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalPaediatrics and Child Health, East Africa
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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