Doctors and vampires in sub-Saharan Africa: ethical challenges in clinical trial research

Koen Peeters, Joan Muela Ribera, Annette Erhart, Sarah Hoibak, Raffaella Ravinetto, Charlotte Gryseels, Susan Dierickx, Sarah O'Neill, Susanna Hausmann Muela, Umberto D'Alessandro

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

33 Downloads (Pure)


Collecting blood samples from individuals recruited into clinical research projects in sub-Saharan Africa can be challenging. Strikingly, one of the reasons for participant reticence is the occurrence of local rumors surrounding "blood stealing" or "blood selling." Such fears can potentially have dire effects on the success of research projects--for example, high dropout rates that would invalidate the trial's results--and have ethical implications related to cultural sensitivity and informed consent. Though commonly considered as a manifestation of the local population's ignorance, these rumors represent a social diagnosis and a logical attempt to make sense of sickness and health. Born from historical antecedents, they reflect implicit contemporary structural inequalities and the social distance between communities and public health institutions. We aim at illustrating the underlying logic governing patients' fear and argue that the management of these beliefs should become an intrinsic component of clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)213-215
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Operational research
  • Clinical trials
  • Organization
  • Specimen collection
  • Sampling
  • Blood
  • Acceptability
  • Beliefs
  • Knowledge
  • Culture
  • Ethics
  • Patient's perspective
  • Patient-to-doctor
  • Africa-General


Dive into the research topics of 'Doctors and vampires in sub-Saharan Africa: ethical challenges in clinical trial research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this