The role of community advisory boards in community-based HIV clinical trials: a qualitative study from Tanzania

Godwin Pancras, Bruno F. Sunguya, Nathanael Sirili, Emmanuel Balandya, Eligius Lyamuya & Blandina T. Mmbaga
Publication year: 


Community Advisory Boards (CAB) have become essential organs of involving communities in HIV clinical trials especially in developing countries. However, limited empirical evidence exists on the role of CABs in low and middle-income countries including Tanzania. This study aims at exploring the role of CABs in community-based HIV clinical trials conducted in Tanzania.


We adopted a phenomenological approach to purposefully select HIV clinical trial stakeholders. These included CAB members, researchers and Institutional Review Board (IRB) members in Tanzania. We conducted In-depth Interviews (IDIs) with ten participants and three Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with eighteen participants. The data were thematically analyzed with the aid of MAXQDA software version 20.2.1.


The findings indicate that at every stage of implementation of a community-based HIV clinical trial, a functioning CAB is important for its success. This importance is based on contextualization of the informed consent process and protocol, managing rumours in the community, weighing trial risks and benefits, sensitizing the community, assisting participant recruitment, tracing and retention. However, being perceived as financial beneficiaries than community representatives emerged as a challenge to CAB members.


The study empirically indicates the need for functioning CABs in every stage of implementation of community-based HIV clinical trials. The roles of which are interwoven in serving research goals and protecting the interests of the community and that of trial participants.