Motivations and decision-making styles that influence participation in biomedical research vary across study types, cultures, and countries. While there is a small amount of literature on informed consent in non-western cultures, few studies have examined how participants make the decision to join research. This study was designed to identify the factors motivating people to participate in biomedical research in a traditional Nigerian community, assess the degree to which participants involve others in the decision-making process, and examine issues of autonomy in decision-making for research. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted with 100 adults (50 men, 50 women) in an urban Nigerian community who had participated in a biomedical research study. Subjects were interviewed using a survey instrument.
Two-thirds of the respondents reported participating in the biomedical study to learn more about their illness, while 30% hoped to get some medical care. Over three-quarters (78%) of participants discussed the enrolment decision with someone else and 39% reported obtaining permission from a spouse or family member to participate in the study. Women were more than twice as likely as men to report obtaining permission from someone else before participating. More specifically, half of the female participants reported seeking permission from a spouse before enrolling. The findings suggest that informed consent in this community is understood and practised as a relational activity that involves others in the decision making process. Further studies are needed in non-Western countries concerning autonomy, decision-making, and motivation to participate in research studies.