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Promoting research participation: Why not advertise altruism?

Williams, B   Entwistle, V   Haddow, G   Wells, M

Social Science and Medicine   66 (7) 1451-1456

April 2008

Participation rates have a major impact on the quality, cost and timeliness of health research. There is growing evidence that participation rates may be falling and that new research governance structures and procedures may be increasing the likelihood of recruitment bias. It may be possible to encourage public reflection about research participation and enhance recruitment by providing information about the potential benefits of research to others as well as to research participants and by stimulating debate and influencing social expectations about involvement. Publicly funded and charitable bodies use various forms of advertising to encourage altruistic behaviour and generate social expectations about donating money, blood and organs for the benefit of others. Consideration should be given to the use of similar persuasive communications to promote wider participation in health research generally.