Van den Berg, Patricia, Kendal, Sarah, Alderson, Helen V. and Body, Richard (2017) An exploration of patients’ experiences of participation in a randomised controlled trial of the Manchester Acute Coronary Syndromes (MACS) decision rule. Emergency Medicine Journal. ISSN 1472-0205

As an important part of a pilot study to determine the feasibility of a large randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing use of the Manchester Acute Coronary Syndromes (MACS) decision rule to standard care, we aimed to explore patient attitudes and potential barriers to participation in a trial of this nature.

We conducted a qualitative study nested within a pilot RCT comparing use of the MACS rule (which could enable some patients with chest pain to be discharged earlier) to standard care. Semi-structured interviews with consenting participants were conducted with reference to a bespoke topic guide. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using the Framework method with an inductive approach.

The ten interviewees expressed that participation in the trial was generally acceptable. All but one recommended participation to others. Participants who were in pain or anxious at the time of arrival reported that the initial invitation to participate in the trial was sometimes made too early. The approach was welcome providing they had been given time to settle. Interviewees welcomed the opportunity that trial participation offered for them to play a more active role in their healthcare and to reduce unnecessary waiting time. Participants appeared to like that participation in the trial might mean they could return home sooner and welcomed the provision of follow-up. Although several participants described being generally sceptical of medical research, they were amenable to participation in this trial. This appears to be because they agreed with the need for research in this field and perceived the intervention as non-invasive.

Patients were positive about their participation in this RCT comparing the MACS rule to standard care. A number of areas for improving trial design were identified and should be considered in the planning of future large trials

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