The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Forging convictions: the effects of active participation in a clinical trial

Scott, Clare, Walker, Jan, White, Peter and Lewith, George (2011) Forging convictions: the effects of active participation in a clinical trial Social Science & Medicine, 72, (12), pp. 2041-2048. (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.04.021). (PMID:21636195).

Record type: Article


This qualitative study explored non-specific influences on participation in, and outcomes of, a randomised controlled trial. It was nested within a single-blind clinical trial of western acupuncture which compared real acupuncture with two types of placebo control administered to National Health Service (NHS) patients awaiting hip and knee replacement surgery in England. Data collection (2004–2008) was based on narrative-style interviews and participant observation. The results indicate that trial recruitment and retention depend on a set of convictions forged largely as a result of contextual factors peripheral to the intervention, including the friendliness and helpfulness of research centre staff and status of the administering practitioner. These convictions also influence the reporting of the study outcomes, particularly if participants experience uncertainties when choosing an appropriate response. The findings suggest that participants in clinical trials are actively involved in shaping the research process, rather than passive recipients of treatment. Thus the outcomes of trials, notably those involving contact interventions, should be regarded not as matters of fact, but as products of complex environmental, social, interpretive and biological processes. In this paper, we develop and present a ‘theory of active research participation’ which offers a framework for understanding the impact of non-specific processes in clinical trials.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 18 May 2011
Keywords: uk, clinical trial, rct, research participation, acupuncture, context effects
Organisations: Primary Care & Population Sciences


Local EPrints ID: 197209
ISSN: 0277-9536
PURE UUID: f636cd8c-5236-46dc-b011-f604992db9a1

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Sep 2011 12:59
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:21

Export record



Author: Clare Scott
Author: Jan Walker
Author: Peter White
Author: George Lewith

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.