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BACKGROUND: Orthopaedic surgeries include some of the highest volume surgical interventions globally; however, studies have shown that a significant proportion of patients report no clinically meaningful improvement in pain or function after certain procedures. As a result, there is increasing interest in conducting randomised placebo-controlled trials in orthopaedic surgery. However, these frequently fail to reach recruitment targets suggesting a need to improve trial design to encourage participation. The objective of this study was to systematically scope the available evidence on patient and clinician values and preferences which may influence the decision to participate in placebo surgery trial. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted via a literature search in the MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, CINAHL, and EconLit databases as of 19 July 2021, for studies of any design (except commentaries or opinion pieces) based on two key concepts: patient and clinician characteristics, values and preferences, and placebo surgery trials. RESULTS: Of 3424 initial articles, we retained 18 eligible studies. Characteristics, preferences, values, and attitudes of patients (including levels of pain/function, risk/benefit perception, and altruism) and of clinicians (including concerns regarding patient deception associated with placebo, and experience/training in research) influenced their decisions to participate in placebo-controlled trials. Furthermore, some aspects of trial design, including randomisation procedures, availability of the procedure outside of the trial, and the information and consent procedures used, also influenced decisions to participate. CONCLUSION: Participant recruitment is a significant challenge in placebo surgery trials, and individual decisions to participate appear to be sensitive to preferences around treatment. Understanding and quantifying the role patient and clinician preferences may play in surgical trials may contribute to the optimisation of the design and implementation of clinical trials in surgery.

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Humans, Orthopedics, Pain