Community perceptions and willingness to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials: a qualitative study in Northern Ghana


  • Samuel Tamti Chatio Department of Social Sciences, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Nana Akosua Ansah Department of Clinical Trials, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Engelbert A. Nonterah Department of Clinical Trials, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Oscar Bangre Department of Clinical Trials, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Denis Awuni Department of Clinical Trials, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Irene Kuwolamo Department of Social Sciences, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Victor Asoala Department of Biomedical Sciences, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Patrick Ansah Department of Clinical Trials, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana



Perceptions, Willingness to participate, COVID-19 vaccine trials, Northern Ghana


Background: Several COVID-19 vaccines were developed and are being tested to find effective vaccine to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The Navrongo health research centre was engaged to conduct trials on the safety and efficacy of some of the COVID-19 vaccines to inform policy in Ghana. This study explored perceptions and willingness to participate in the COVID-19 vaccine trials that were conducted in the Kassena-Nankana districts of Northen Ghana.

Methods: This study used qualitative research approach where 10 focus group discussions and 30 in-depth interviews were conducted with participants. The data were coded into themes using QSR NVivo 12 software before thematic analysis.

Results: The majority of participants perceived that the COVID-19 vaccine trial was a good initiative, which had helped people to get access to the vaccines to boost their immunity against the virus. However, some participants felt that it was not appropriate for NHRC to conduct the trials because of the perceived risks associated with the vaccines. Most participants said they were ready to participate in the trials if they were invited with many of them mentioning good health and compensation as the main factors that could influence their decision. Nonetheless, a good number of them maintained that they were not ready to participate because of perceived risks resulting from receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.

Conclusion: Our recommendation is that effective community engagement strategies by researchers such as collaborating with key community leaders, to actively get involved during community education prior to conducting clinical trials, could improve understanding and participation.


Houlihan CF, Whitworth JAG. Outbreak science: recent progress in the detection and response to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Clin Med. 2019; 19(2):140-4.

Achora S, Kamanyire JK. Disaster preparedness: Need for inclusion in undergraduate nursing education. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2016;16(1): e15-9.

Kieny MP, Evans DB, Schmets G, Kadandale S. Health-system resilience: reflections on the Ebola crisis in western Africa. Bull World Health Org. 2014;92(12):850.

Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations. Available at: Accessed on 20 February 2023.

Report on current pneumonia epidemic situation in the city. Available at: Accessed on 20 February 2023.

Larson HJ. The state of vaccine confidence. Lancet. 2018;392(10161):2244-6.

Rozbroj T, Lyons A, Lucke J. The mad leading the blind: Perceptions of the vaccine-refusal movement among Australians who support vaccination. Vaccine. 2019;37(40):5986-93.

Riaz MMA, Ahmad U, Mohan A, Costa ADS, Khan H, Babar MS, et al. Global impact of vaccine nationalism during COVID-19 pandemic. Trop Med Health. 2021;49:101.

Wertz FJ. Phenomenological research methods for counselling psychology. J Couns Psychol. 2005;52: 167-77.

Andrews M, Tamboukou M. Doing Narrative Research. Andrews M, Tamboukou M, eds. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications Ltd; 2013.

Massawe IS, Lusingu JP, Manongi RN. Community perception on biomedical research: A case study of malariometric survey in Korogwe District, Tanga Region, Tanzania. Public Health. 2014;14:385.

Chatio S, Baiden F, Achana FS, Oduro A, Akazili J. Knowledge and Perceptions about Clinical Trials and the Use of Biomedical Samples: Findings from a Qualitative Study in Rural Northern Ghana. PLoS One. 2016;11:4.

Joshi VD, Oka GA, Kulkarni AA, Bivalkar VV. Public awareness and perception of clinical trials: Quantitative study in Pune. Perspect Clin Res., 2013; 4(3):169-74.

Resinga PR, Davhan-Maselesele M. A concept analysis of young adults; Perceptionof HIV Counselling and Testing. Health SA Gesondheid. 2017;22:213-20.

Moreira ED, Gusmão de Oliveira B, Silva Neves RC, Costa S, Karic GRN, Filho JOC. Assessment of knowledge and attitudes of young uninsured women toward human papillomavirus vaccination and clinical trials. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2006;19(2):81-7.

Akazili J, Chatio S, Achana FS, Oduro A, Kanmiki EW, Baiden F. Factors influencing willingness to participate in new drug trial studies: a study among parents whose children were recruited into these trials in northern Ghana. BMC Res Notes. 2016;9:139.

Alhassan RK, Spieker N, Ostenberg P, Ogink A, Nketiah-Amponsah E, de Wit TFR. Association between health worker motivation and healthcare quality efforts in Ghana. Hum Resour Health. 2013; 11:1-11.

Angwenyi V, Asante K-P, Traoré A, Febir LG, Tawiah C, Kwarteng A, et al. Health Providers’ Perceptions of Clinical Trials: Lessons from Ghana, Kenya and Burkina Faso. PLoS One. 2015;10(5): e124554.

Lurie N, Manolio T, Patterson AP, Collins F, Frieden T. Research as a part of public health emergency response. New Eng J Med. 2013;368(13):1251-5.

Banks LM, Kuper H, Polack S. Poverty and disability in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2017;12(12):e0189996.

Dube K, Taylor J, Sylla L, Evans D, Dee L, Burton A, et al. Well, It's the Risk of the Unknown Right?': A Qualitative Study of Perceived Risks and Benefits of HIV Cure Research in the United States. PLoS One. 2017;12:1.

Bouida W, Grissa MH, Zorgati A, Beltaief K, Boubaker H, Sriha A, et al. Willingness to participate in health research: Tunisian survey. BMC Med Ethics. 2016;17:47.

Johnson RA, Rid A, Emanuel E, Wendler D. Risks of phase I research with healthy participants: A systematic review. Clin Trials. 2016;13(2):149-60.

Nabulsi M, Khalil Y, Makhoul J. Parental attitudes towards and perceptions of their children’s participation in clinical research: a developing-country perspective. J Med Ethics. 2011;37(7):420-3.

Kubicek K, Arauz-Cuadra C, Kipke MD. Attitudes and perceptions of biomedical HIV prevention methods: voices from young men who have sex with men. Arch Sex Behav, 2015;44:487-97.

Glandon D, Paina L, Alonge O, Peters DH, Bennett S. 10 Best resources for community engagement in implementation research. Health Policy Planning, 2017;32(10):1457-65.

Ioannidis JPA. Why Most Clinical Research Is Not Useful?. PLoS Med. 2016;13(6):e1002049.

Ethicaal considerations in biomedical HIV prevention trials. Available at: Accessed on 20 February 2023.






Original Research Articles