Purpose: To describe the motivations, expectations, and other factors men with X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) consider when making decisions to participate in an early phase ocular gene therapy clinical trial. Design: Qualitative interview study. Methods: Men with XLRS who were considering participation in a phase I/IIa ocular gene therapy clinical trial at the National Eye Institute were eligible for this study. Trial participants (n = 9) were interviewed prior to receiving the gene transfer and then at 3 and 12 months later. Trial participation decliners (n = 2) were interviewed at an initial visit and 12 months later. Those screened for the trial and found ineligible (n = 2) were interviewed at an initial visit only. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically. Results: Interview participants described decision making factors as risk-benefit assessments, personal intuition, trust in the study team, and religious faith. Altruism and the potential for therapeutic benefit were the main motives for trial participation, whereas the uncertainty of risks and benefits was the reason 2 men declined participation. Although most participants hoped for direct benefit, no one expected to benefit. Almost all interview participants considered their decision straightforward and were satisfied with their decision when interviewed over time. Meaningful relationships with the study team and perceived secondary benefits to participation contributed to positive trial experiences. Conclusions: Engaging prospective research participants in a discussion about their hopes, expectations, and personal factors provides a more complete understanding of patient decision making and may help support informed choices to participate in clinical trials for XLRS.
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