When study participants are vulnerable: Getting and keeping the right team

Nikki L. Hill, Jacqueline Mogle, Rachel Wion, Ann Marie Kolanowski, Donna Fick, Liza Behrens, Paula Muhall, Jane McDowell

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background Research assistants (RAs) are critical members of all research teams. When a study involves vulnerable populations, it is particularly important to have the right team members. Aim To describe the motivations, personal characteristics and team characteristics that promoted the job satisfaction of RAs who worked on two multi-year, randomised clinical trials involving older adults with dementia. Discussion A survey was conducted with 41 community members who worked as RAs for up to five years. Measures included demographics, work engagement, personality and characteristics of effective teams, as well as open-ended questions about respondents' experiences of the study. Quantitative analyses and coding of open-ended responses were used to summarise results. Almost all the RAs surveyed joined the team because of previous experiences of interacting with cognitively impaired older people. The RA respondents scored higher in 'dedication to work', 'extraversion', 'agreeableness' and 'conscientiousness' than average. An important aspect of their job satisfaction was team culture, including positive interpersonal interaction and the development of supportive team relationships. Conclusion A positive work culture provides RAs with an opportunity to work with a study population that they are personally driven to help, and promotes motivation and satisfaction in team members. Implications for practice Results from this study can guide the recruitment, screening and retention of team members for studies that include vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages9
Specialist publicationNurse Researcher
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Research and Theory


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