BACKGROUND: Research participants may not adequately understand the research in which they agree to enroll. This could be due to a myriad of factors. Such a missing link in the informed consent process contravenes the requirement for an “informed” consent prior to the commencement of research. This study assessed the post consent understanding of Nigerian study participants of the oral health research they were invited to join.
METHODS: A descriptive cross sectional study with research participants who had just consented to one of three ongoing research studies on oral health. Study sites included two centers, one in the northern and one in the southern part of Nigeria. Data were collected using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods.
RESULTS: A total of 113 research participants were interviewed. The southern part of the country had 58 respondents with the north having 55. The age range was 21 – 80 years. Mean age was 46.1 (SD16.3). The sample was predominantly male (69.9%) and married (64.6%). There was poor understanding of some key elements of the informed consent process such as involvement in research, benefits, contacts, confidentiality and voluntariness. Some identified factors potentially compromising understanding were poverty, illiteracy, therapeutic misconception and confusion about the dual roles of the Dentist and the researcher.
CONCLUSION: The participants recruited into the oral health research in Nigeria did not adequately understand the studies they were invited to join nor do they understand their rights as research participants. Measures should be taken to include research bioethics into the curricula of Dental schools and to train oral health researchers in the country on research ethics.