Good participatory practice for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) research: the case of a COVID-19 prevention study
Perrone C., Schilling W., Callery JJ., Ashley EA., Chambers M., Chase H., Dahal P., Kanthawang N., Nedsuwan S., Hanboonkunupakarn B., Intralawan D., Karkey A., Mayxay M., Souvong V., Tran Minh H., Udas Shakya S., Sharma SK., Uranw S., Vannachione S., Woodrow C., White NJ., Cheah PY.
Background: The COPCOV study (chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine prevention of coronavirus disease), which started recruitment in April 2020, is a multi-country double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial which is being conducted in healthcare facilities involved in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case management. COPCOV aims to recruit healthcare workers and other staff employed in facilities managing people with proven or suspected COVID-19. Methods: We conducted a series of engagement sessions, each involving a short presentation of the study, a section where attendees were asked to express if they would be interested in participating in such a study and which information they would need to change their view and an open Q&A section. Answers were transcribed and coded into themes by two independent investigators. Themes were derived from the data. The aims were to assess the feasibility of the study at the respective sites, to identify context-specific ethical issues, to understand concerns potential participants might have, to fine tune research procedures and to refine COPCOV information materials. They complemented other site-specific engagement, communication and public relation activities such as press releases and websites. Results: From 16th March 2020 to 20th January 2021, 12 engagement sessions were conducted in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal and the UK involving 213 attendees in total. The sessions were designed to encourage potential participants and research professionals not directly involved in the project to interact with those who planned the study and those conducting it. Many attendees were keen to join the study while others had concerns. Questions raised revolved around the social value and study rationale; safety of trial medications and risk-benefit balance; study design and commitments. Conclusions: These sessions helped us refine information materials, identify misunderstandings about the study as well as complement site feasibility assessments. Our experience strongly supports the use of participatory practices prior to conducting clinical trials.