Motivations and concerns about adolescent tuberculosis vaccine trial participation in rural Uganda: a qualitative study
Introduction: Research is being carried out to develop and test new potentially more effective tuberculosis vaccines. Among the vaccines being developed are those that target adolescents. This study explored the stakeholders’ perceptions about adolescent participation in a hypothetical tuberculosis vaccine trial in Ugandan adolescents.
Methods: Focus group discussions with adolescents, parents of infants and adolescents, and key informant interviews with community leaders and traditional healers were conducted.
Results: The majority of the respondents expressed potential willingness to allow their children participate in a tuberculosis vaccine trial. Main motivations for potential participation would be being able to learn about health-related issues. Hesitations included the notion that trial participation would distract the youths from their studies, fear of possible side effects of an investigational product, and potential for being sexually exploited by researchers. In addition, bad experiences from participation in previous research and doubts about the importance of research were mentioned. Suggested ways to motivate participation included: improved clarity on study purpose, risks, benefits and better scheduling of study procedures to minimize disruption to participants’ academic schedules.
Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that the community is open to potential participation of adolescents in a tuberculosis vaccine trial. However, there is a need to communicate more effectively with the community about the purpose of the trial and its effects, including safety data, in a low-literacy, readily understood format. This raises a challenge to researchers, who cannot know all the potential effects of a trial product before it is tested.