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BACKGROUND: Studies exploring parents' trial experiences generally relate to their understanding of the consent process and the development of researcher strategies to facilitate recruitment and retention. The aim was to better understand parents' experience of being part of a trial at the time and their perceptions of trial participation in retrospect. METHODS: Data were collected in a number of ways: from recorded discussions between parents and clinicians about the MRI or ultrasound, in open-text responses to questionnaires and in qualitative interviews at 1 and 2 years after participation. Thematic analysis was undertaken using NVivo10. RESULTS: Key themes identified were 'deciding to take part', with subthemes associated with 'benefitting self', 'benefitting others' and 'being prepared'; 'the randomisation process' with subthemes relating to 'acceptance' and 'understanding' and 'actual engagement' with subthemes of 'practicalities' and 'care from responsive staff'. CONCLUSION: Parents' perspectives on the trial and the processes and information received reflect their understanding and experience of the trial and the value of parent-friendly information-giving about participation, randomisation and follow-up. The practical and logistical points raised confirm the key issues and parents' need for sensitive care and support in the course of a trial. Looking back, almost all parents were positive about their experience and felt that the family had benefitted from participation in the trial and follow-up studies, even when the developmental outcomes were poor. TRIAL REGISTRATION:, ID: NCT01049594. . Registered on 13 January 2010. EudraCT: EudraCT: 2009-011602-42. .

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MRI, Neonatal trial, Parents, Preterm, Trial recruitment, Ultrasound scan