By Bernadette Madlala, Nurse, CAPRISA 004 study, Durban, South Africa
The concerns and views of trial participants often mirror those in the larger community. When a participant expresses a concern to someone on our staff, the staff member addresses this concern immediately, to prevent it from migrating into the community and becoming a larger issue.
To do this, we have a variety of systems in place. For one, we have identified the clinic waiting room as an important source of information. Participants talk about anything and everything in this room, and sometimes, when participants come in for their appointments, while waiting to be seen by the study staff, they will ask us about rumors they heard. As a result, our staff has started taking turns sitting with participants as they are waiting for their appointments. We also have a suggestion box in the clinic waiting room. Staff members working on a microbicide gel trial encourage participants to write whatever issues or concerns come to them during their visits. These concerns are also taken into consideration, and the concerns noted in the suggestion box are regularly addressed.
We know that if participants leave the clinic without getting proper information, there is the possibility that rumors and false information will spread. These systems ensure that our participants have the information they need to be ambassadors for the trial, correcting any misinformation that they might hear outside the trial site.