Background: Although recruiting newborns is ethically challenging, clinical trials remain essential to improve neonatal care. There is a lack of empirical data on the parental perspectives following participation of their neonate in a clinical trial, especially at long term. The objective of this study is to assess experiences and emotions of parents, long term after trial participation in an interventional drug trial. Methods: Parents of former participants of five neonatal interventional drug trials were surveyed at long term (3– 13 years ago) after participation. The survey assessed parental contentment with trial participation, perceived influence of the trial on care and health, emotional consequences of participation, and awareness of typical clinical trial characteristics on 6-point Likert scales. Results: Complete responses were received from 123 parents (52% of involved families). Twenty percent of parents did not remember participation. Those who remembered participation reported high contentment with overall trial participation (median 5.00), but not with follow-up (median 3.00). Most parents did not perceive any influence of the trial on care (median 2.00) and health (median 2.43). Almost all parents reported satisfaction and pride (median 4.40), while a minority of parents reported anxiety and stress (median 1.44) or guilt (median 1.33) related to trial participation. A relevant minority was unaware of typical trial characteristics (median 4.20; 27% being unaware). Conclusions: Overall, parents reported positive experiences and little emotional distress long term after participation. Future efforts to improve the practice of neonatal clinical trials should focus on ensuring effective communication about the concept and characteristics of a clinical trial during consent discussions and on the follow-up after the trial.

Neonatal clinical trials, Clinical bio-ethics,

Salaets, T., Lavrysen, E., Smits, A, Vanhaesebrouck, S., Rayyan, M, Ortibus, E., … Allegaert, K. (2020). Parental perspectives long term after neonatal clinical trial participation: a survey. Trials, 21(1). doi:10.1186/s13063-020-04787-0