Purpose of review: This narrative review seeks to ascertain the challenges older patients face with participation in mental health clinical research studies and suggests creative strategies to minimize these obstacles.
Recent findings: Challenges to older adults’ engagement in mental health research include practical, institutional, and collaboration-related barriers applicable to all clinical trials as well as more personal, cultural, and age-related patient barriers specific to geriatric mental health research. Universal research challenges include (1) institutional barriers of lack of funding and researchers, inter-researcher conflict, and sampling bias; (2) collaboration-related barriers involving miscommunication and clinician concerns; and (3) practical patient barriers such as scheduling issues, financial constraints, and transportation difficulties. Challenges unique to geriatric mental health research include (1) personal barriers such as no perceived need for treatment, prior negative experience, and mistrust of mental health research; (2) cultural barriers involving stigma and lack of bilingual or culturally matched staff; and (3) chronic medical issues and concerns about capacity.
Summary: Proposed solutions to these barriers include increased programmatic focus on and funding of geriatric psychiatry research grants, meeting with clinical staff to clarify study protocols and eligibility criteria, and offering transportation for participants. To minimize stigma and mistrust of psychiatric research, studies should devise community outreach efforts, employ culturally competent bilingual staff, and provide patient and family education about the study and general information about promoting mental health.
The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and the National Primary Health Network Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and live on across Australia. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.
“A lived experience recognises the effects of ongoing negative historical impacts and or specific events on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It encompasses the cultural, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual, family or community.
“People with lived or living experience of suicide are those who have experienced suicidal thoughts, survived a suicide attempt, cared for someone through a suicidal crisis, been bereaved by suicide or having a loved one who has died by suicide, acknowledging that this experience is significantly different and takes into consideration Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ways of understanding social and emotional wellbeing.” - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre
We welcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to this site and invite them to provide any feedback or items for inclusion.
We also recognise people with lived and living experience of mental ill-health and recovery and the experience of people who are carers, families, kin, or supporters.