As part of having a well-designed study protocol and participants giving their informed consent, it is critical that participants understand the study and its objectives to generate rigorous, high-quality research. In the PrEPVacc study, which aims at HIV prevention, potential participants experienced difficulties understanding the content in the printed Participant Information Sheet (PIS), which attempts to explain the research study procedures in the local language.
In response to this challenge, the PrEPVacc study team conceived an online video to be used during its recruitment, enrolment, and retention phases to engage and inform participants and potential participants about the study and to answer their frequent questions. The video script was developed collaboratively with input from community members, sponsors, and research team members.
Neetha Morar – Senior Research Manager and site communications representative within PrEPVacc said “The animated short video was valued by the potential participants as it was effective in addressing common questions and complex research procedures written in the information sheet.”
The 13-minute animated video, which was created in 2021, features an encounter between a man, John, who is interested in the PrEPVacc study and Jane, a community neighbour who explains what it is about and what participation would involve. It is a video version of the sheet and covers the information printed therein but in an animated format. As well as an English version, the video has also been translated, captioned, and dubbed into Luganda, IsiZulu and KiSwahili language versions. Each version has received relevant local ethics committee approval, while the Imperial College Research Ethics Committee has also given approval for its use.
The video concept and script were developed by the communications and community engagement specialists from each of PrEPVacc's sites working together within the PrEPVacc Communicators Network. The video itself was produced by FEZ Media, an independent video production company in Kampala, Uganda.
“Whenever the video is shown, a member of staff follows up with the audience and asks if they have feedback or further questions,” added Neetha Morar. There was good acceptability of the study and the video as a local tool for education and outreach sessions.
What is the PrEPVacc study?
PrEPVacc is an African-led, European-supported HIV prevention study running in East and Southern Africa from 2018 to 2024. For the first time, it is combining evaluation of experimental HIV vaccines and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) at the same time. PrEP refers to the taking of a prescription drug as a means of preventing HIV infection in an HIV-negative person. Enrolment to the study was completed in March 2023 and it is now in the follow-up and retention phase. PrEPVacc is scheduled to disseminate its findings by December 2024. It is the only HIV vaccine efficacy trial being conducted in the world at present.