Inside trials: an interview study of clinical trials and trial reporting

Inside Trials Study

Results of clinical trials are often not published. We were interested in finding out how this comes about, and what past trial participants and others think about it.

It is estimated that about 4 in every 10 randomized controlled trials are not published in academic journals or only published after a long delay. When trial results are not published, this makes it more difficult to understand the risks and benefits of drugs. This has led to less informed patient care and unnecessary harm to patients. 

This University of British Columbia study was based on interviews with clinical trial participants, clinical trial investigators, a clinical research coordinator, research administrators, and research ethics board members. Interviews for the study were conducted between March 2019 and April 2021.

Trialists who participated were from a range of medical fields, including cardiovascular medicine, endocrinology, hepatology, infectious diseases, oncology, psychiatry, and rheumatology. Participants were from the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. 

Clinical trialists and research coordinators: how to help recruit past trial participants for this study

If you are a clinical trial investigator or clinical research coordinator, we would welcome your assistance in sharing information about this study with patients who have participated in a prescription drug clinical trial.

You could help with our recruitment of past trial participants in either or both of the following ways:

  • Asking for the patient’s verbal or written consent that a researcher from our study team would contact them about the study. If the patient consents, you could email either the patient’s name and contact information, or a signed consent form, to PhD Candidate Richard Morrow at
  • Sharing a handout with the patient, which includes information about the study, eligibility criteria for participating, and how to contact us to participate or find out more information.

The following are available for download:

  • Consent-to-be-contacted form to obtain written consent for us to contact a patient about the study (note: either verbal or written consent to be contacted are acceptable)
  • Patient handout about the study, including eligibility criteria for participating


Research participants wanted: past clinical trial participants

Patients play a key role in research as participants in clinical trials, and learning their perspectives about clinical trials is important to improving medical research. We are interested to learn more about the experiences and views of people who have participated in a prescription drug clinical trial, especially to find out their views about the importance of publishing the results of trial research.

If you join the study and are interested to know whether the results of the trial you participated in have been published, we can try to find that out for you.

You are invited to participate in this study if:

  • You participated in a clinical trial of a prescription drug in Canada within the past 5 years and your participation has now ended.
  • You were 18 years or older when you participated in the trial.

Participation will include an interview of about 60 minutes at a time and place of the participant’s convenience. Interviews will usually be held in person for participants in Victoria or Vancouver and by phone for participants in other parts of BC or Canada. Some participants may be asked to do a 15-minute follow-up telephone interview, but this will not be required. Participants will receive a $50 honorarium for their time if they wish to receive it.

Research participants wanted: clinical trial investigators

This study aims to explore why the results of some trials are reported while others are not, and to understand different perspectives on clinical trial reporting. To develop a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of unpublished trials of prescription drugs or biologics, it will be important to understand the experiences and views of investigators conducting trials.

Participating will involve taking part in an interview of about 60 minutes at a time and place of the participant’s convenience. Interviews will usually be held in person for participants in Victoria or Vancouver and by phone for participants in other parts of BC or Canada. You will be asked about your experiences and views with respect to conducting and reporting on clinical drug trials.

We hope that you will see this as an opportunity to contribute toward greater understanding of the practice of clinical trials and matters related to trial reporting. In order to acknowledge the time taken to participate in this project, each participant will receive an honorarium of $50 if they wish to receive it.

To volunteer or find out more

Those interested in participating or finding out more information about the Inside Trials Study can contact PhD Candidate Richard Morrow using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Additional information about the study:

Measures will be taken to protect the confidentiality of information provided during interviews for this study. The study will be conducted for a PhD thesis.

The Principal Investigator of the study is Dr. Colin Dormuth, Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of British Columbia.