Facilitating individuals and families affected by fragile X syndrome to participate in medication trials

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Recently, there has been an increasing number of trials of medications for fragile X syndrome (FXS). In order to be adequately powered, trials have involved many centres around the world with relatively small numbers of participants recruited at each site. This study aims to understand the barriers to, and how best to facilitate participation in, medication trials in order to improve recruitment and the experience of participants with FXS.


A mixed methods design was used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Participants were invited to participate through the UK Fragile X Society, a local mailing list and through social media. Those who agreed to participate completed a quantitative questionnaire and indicated whether they would be willing to participate in a follow‐up focus group.


The questionnaire was completed by 328 individuals who either had FXS, or were a parent, carer or family member of an individual with FXS. Over two‐thirds of participants reported concern about side effects, while over one‐third mentioned swallowing tablets, blood tests, financial aspects and travel as barriers to participation. Focus groups with 12 individuals highlighted themes of trial challenges, strategies to overcome these and motivating factors to participate.


Many of the factors, which potentially negatively influence participation in a clinical trial for FXS, could be mitigated in relatively simple ways. Easily accessible information, particularly about safety issues, the research team and the trial environment should be standard practice. Desensitisation programmes for blood testing, provision of different preparations of medication (e.g. liquid) and use of a combination of local, remote and site visits to reduce travel and time should also be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12779
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Early online date21 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Sep 2020


  • clinical trials
  • fragile X syndrome
  • participation
  • recruitment


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