Mental health clinical trials face several unique barriers, particularly in the area of patient recruitment and retention. Medical trials researching treatment for any mental health condition face distinct challenges due to the vulnerability of the patient group and the resulting ethical concerns. These issues impact all mental health clinical research but are particularly prevalent in anxiety disorders, where those with more severe symptoms are less likely to seek treatment. This is an alarming trend, considering that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health diagnosis in the U.S., accounting for 18.1% of the total population.
What are the specific issues facing recruitment to mental health trials?
Some challenges facing mental health clinical trials include time and workload stress when there is pressure for clinical staff to attend to competing clinical priorities. Negative patient attitudes also greatly impact recruitment, especially considering the limited understanding of the biological basis for some mental health conditions, which can cause patients to be skeptical towards the potential for success in any new treatment. Another challenge is gatekeeping behaviors, wherein researchers may assume that participation in a trial may be too stressful on a given patient.
In clinical trials exploring the treatment of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder, there are specific concerns of shame and stigma to contend with. Patients often refrain from seeking treatment of any kind, even more so in groups with more severe symptoms and in minority racial and ethnic groups. Patients often worry about the uncertainty of treatment and the possibility of negative medical evaluation.
What are the solutions?
The biggest priority in approaching mental health clinical trials is to understand the specific issues patients are facing and to address them through improved communication and greater care in the process of informing patients and gaining consent. Protected research time, additional training, and reduction in clinicians’ workloads may also improve recruitment and retention rates for mental health research.
There has even been increasing evidence in favor of internet-delivered intervention studies, which might eliminate some fear and uncertainty patients experience when facing an intimidating clinical environment.
However, the prevailing theme among these discussions is the need for clearer communication, especially in the informed consent process where patients with mental health conditions may be particularly vulnerable.
How can we improve communication?
Patient communication can be improved with the implementation of technological solutions such as our Citruslabs platform. Find out more about how we prioritize communication in all types of clinical research here.
Need more information?
Citrus is a fully integrated recruitment and retention software that fits any clinical trial and simplifies the implementation of patient engagement in your clinical trial. Whether you are already working with CTMS systems or not, Citrus is the perfect add-on to make patient interaction effective.
Since 2015, our team has been hard at work raising awareness of clinical trials across the globe. A Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ company and a graduate of the renowned Techstar program in New York, Citruslabs is at the forefront of patient recruitment and retention technologies. With over 3 million patients now recorded on our databases, our patient recruitment dashboard is fast becoming the most efficient method of trial recruitment.
Now a #1 health app in 17 countries, our Mindmate app is helping to revolutionize the way we think about healthcare. Mindmate “[takes] senior care into the digital age” (Forbes, 2018) by providing people with cognitive decline the essential tools to help them rebuild and maintain strong mental health. Trusted by millions of users, our health community continues to grow as the content available expands to the needs of individuals today.
With more than 200 research sites now using the Citrus platform to screen thousands of patients every month, researchers are now well on their way to finding new treatments for hundreds of different health conditions - something that just would not be possible without a technological solution. Make sure that your clinical trial is in the lucky 12% and turn that luck into guaranteed results with Citrus.
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And If you’d like to know more about how Citruslabs can help you recruit more effectively, get in touch with our team here.