The importance of communication in promoting voluntary participation in an experimental trial: A qualitative study based on the assessment of the gamma-interferon test for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis in France

Boireau, Clémence; Dufour, Barbara; Praud, Anne
October 2017
PLoS ONE;10/03/2017, Vol. 12 Issue 10, p1
Academic Journal
Understanding the factors leading each stakeholder to participate in an experimental trial is a key element for improving trial set-up and for identifying selection bias in statistical analyses. An experimental protocol, validated by the European Commission, was developed in France to assess the ability of the gamma-interferon test in terms of accuracy to replace the second intradermal skin test in cases of suspected bovine tuberculosis. Implemented between 2013 and 2015, this experimental trial was based on voluntary participation. To determine and understand the motivation or reluctance of farmers to take part in this trial, we carried out a sociological survey in France. Our study was based on semi-structured interviews with the farmers and other stakeholders involved. The analysis of findings demonstrated that shortening the lock-up period during tuberculosis suspicion, following the use of a gamma-interferon test, was an important aim and a genuine challenge for the animal health stakeholders. However, some farmers did not wish to continue the trial because it could potentially have drastic consequences for them. Moreover, misunderstandings and confusion concerning the objectives and consequences of the trial led stakeholders to reject it forcefully. Based on our results, we offer some recommendations: clear and appropriate communication tools should be prepared to explain the protocol and its aims. In addition, these types of animal health trials should be designed with the stakeholders’ interests in mind. This study provides a better understanding of farmer motivations and stakeholder influences on trial participation and outcomes. The findings can be used to help design trials so that they promote participation by farmers and by all animal health stakeholders in general.


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