Attitudes, Beliefs, and Norms of Adult Research Participants as a Basis for Outreach Education Programming

Open Access
Lyons, Joanna
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 23, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Melody M Thompson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Melody M Thompson, Committee Chair
  • Gary Kuhne, Committee Member
  • Hunt, Brandon, Committee Member
  • Margaret Ann Lorah, Committee Member
  • research participant experience
  • research protections outreach
  • research protections outreach programming
  • adult research subjects
Millions of adults volunteer as research participants annually at research institutions across the nation. This research explored the attitudes, beliefs, and norms of rurally situated, adult research participants at a large research university. This systematic exploration of research participant experiences gathered information to inform the development of research protections outreach programming at the institution that reflects the adult education principle of learner participation in planning. Empirical data is lacking regarding the use of adult education principles in the design and development of research protections-oriented outreach programming,particularly in the area of non-clinical trial research that is conducted in non-urban areas. This exploration consisted of a secondary analysis of focus group data collected from experienced research participants at the same research university. The secondary analysis of five focus group transcripts used a content analysis approach, guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). Categories contained within TPB were used a priori to examine the data for beliefs, attitudes, and norms related to the known behavior of research participation. Four themes were identified in the analysis: Motivation to Participate, Participants’ Personal Investment, Expectations and Rights as Research Participants, and Expectations by Participants of the Institution and Researcher. Results showed positive and negative attitudes towards a number of participation topics. Attitudes, beliefs, and norms varied across the participants. Despite these variations, however, all focus group participants had volunteered for between five to 10 studies within the past five years. Overall, commitment to helping others and making a contribution to research, the university, the community, and others was a strong motivating factor for participation. Personal benefits gained from participation were also strong factors influencing the intention to participate.