Study objectives: Asymptomatic HIV-infected individuals are increasingly recruited for studies involving invasive procedures such as bronchoscopy. We sought to determine the response to and outcome of a request for a research bronchoscopy in HIV-positive individuals with no respiratory disease, and whether this would adversely affect future decisions to have a medically indicated bronchoscopy.
Design and setting: Prospective, semistructured, questionnaire-based study in a London teaching hospital HIV outpatient clinic.
Participants: One hundred and seven consecutive HIV-infected eligible individuals. Thirty-one healthy volunteers served as a control group for the subjective response to bronchoscopy.
Main outcome measures: Subjects' attitudes and responses to requests for bronchoscopy and subsequent behavior when they required medically indicated bronchoscopy.
Results: Seventy-five patients (70%) agreed to the procedure in principle, predominantly for altruistic reasons. Thirty-nine subjects underwent bronchoscopy. Five percent found it worse than expected; and 79% agreed to another research bronchoscopy (performed in 11 subjects approximately 2 years later). All patients said they would undergo bronchoscopy again for diagnostic purposes (required in seven during the study). When compared to a healthy volunteer population within the same study, postbronchoscopy symptoms were similar in frequency although somewhat different in nature. Subjects felt that a clear explanation of what was involved enhanced their participation in this research.
Conclusions: Invasive research procedures such as bronchoscopy can be performed and are repeatable in a healthy HIV-infected population. Performance of procedures for research purposes does not appear to adversely affect future health-care decisions.