Lived time and the affordances of clinical research participation

Brenman, Natassia F. and Milne, Richard. 2021. Lived time and the affordances of clinical research participation. Sociology of Health & Illness, 43(9), pp. 2031-2048. ISSN 0141-9889 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article, we address the problem of participation and the dominant focus on motivations in clinical research. We explore participation as a relational mode of ‘being in time’ in Alzheimer's dementia prevention—a field profoundly shaped by changing bodies through time, as well as promissory trends towards future-oriented preventative medicine. Analysis of interviews with older adults in a clinical trial platform demonstrates that what research ‘does’ or might (not) ‘do’ for participants emerges as temporalities of participants’ everyday lives become entangled with the possibilities, constraints and demands of biomedical ‘research time’. As well as consistent desires to help (future) others, we identify incidental possibilities for care that emerged from continued research participation. We argue that longitudinal research participation can productively be understood as a set of evolving affordances: whereby differing limits and possibilities for care and agency emerge in a world where dementia cannot be cured. Future trial participation is considered in terms of ‘therapeutic affordances’, which are likely to fluctuate as certain lived or imagined futures unfold. As such, we open up a conceptual space to think about why, how, and critically, when participation happens, as it emerges in relation to lived times of ageing and everyday life.

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Research Funding: Innovative Medicines Initiative. Grant Number: 115736; Wellcome Trust. Grant Number: 206194


affordances, dementia, motivations, research participation, temporality

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6 September 2021Accepted
26 September 2021Published Online
December 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

05 Oct 2021 15:00

Last Modified:

19 Jan 2022 14:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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