Dying persons’ perspectives on, or experiences of, participating in research: An integrative review

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Abstract

Background:

Conducting research with dying persons can be controversial and challenging due to concerns for the vulnerability of the dying and the potential burden on those who participate with the possibility of little benefit.

Aim:

To conduct an integrative review to answer the question ‘What are dying persons’ perspectives or experiences of participating in research?

Design:

A structured integrative review of the empirical literature was undertaken.

Data sources:

Cumulative Index Nursing and Allied Health Complete, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Informit and Embase databases were searched for the empirical literature published since inception of the databases until February 2017.

Results:

From 2369 references, 10 papers were included in the review. Six were qualitative studies, and the remaining four were quantitative. Analysis revealed four themes: value of research, desire to help, expression of self and participation preferences. Dying persons value research participation, regarding their contribution as important, particularly if it provides an opportunity to help others. Participants perceived that the potential benefits of research can and should be measured in ways other than life prolongation or cure. Willingness to participate is influenced by study type or feature and degree of inconvenience.

Conclusion:

Understanding dying persons’ perspectives of research participation will enhance future care of dying persons. It is essential that researchers do not exclude dying persons from clinically relevant research due to their prognosis, fear or burden or perceived vulnerability. The dying should be afforded the opportunity to participate in research with the knowledge it may contribute to science and understanding and improve the care and treatment of others.

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