• Article

Behavioral studies relevant to vaccine trial preparation: an introduction

Preparations for large-scale trials to test the efficacy of candidate HIV vaccines can benefit in several crucial ways from a targeted program of behavioral and social research. Randomized field experiments testing alternative procedures for the recruitment and retention of subjects can help identify research procedures that will ensure adequate sample sizes while minimizing sample attrition over time. Similarly, assuring that subjects accurately comprehend the potential risks of participation will require more than simply presenting scientifically accurate information. Ensuring both the adequacy and appropriateness of risk communications as well as the accuracy of subject perception of risks (across the social and cultural milieux in which vaccine trials will be undertaken) is a critical task. Ethnographic and behavioral studies can help to ensure that our obligation to obtain truly informed consent from our research subjects is fully met and documented. Monitoring risk behaviors over the course of the vaccine trials could also benefit from strategic investments in new technologies developed by social researchers to permit the collection of sensitive personal data while affording complete privacy to subjects. These new measurement technologies include procedures that permit private data collection (without a human interviewer) in any spoken language and without requiring that subjects be literate


Turner, C., & Sheon, AR. (1994). Behavioral studies relevant to vaccine trial preparation: an introduction. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, 10(Suppl 2), S273-S276.