Mental illness; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; depression; diabetes mellitus; recruitment; study retention


Health Services Research | Primary Care | Psychiatry


Abstract: Recruitment and retention of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and comorbid diabetes mellitus (DM) in research studies can be challenging with major impediments being difficulties reaching participants via telephone contact, logistic difficulties due to lack of transportation, ongoing psychiatric symptoms, and significant medical complications. Research staff directly involved in recruitment and retention processes of this study reviewed their experiences. The largest barriers at the macro, mediator, and micro levels identified in this study were inclement weather, transportation difficulties, and intermittent and inaccessible telephone contact. Barrier work-around practices included using the health system’s EHR to obtain current phone numbers, providing transportation assistance (bus passes or parking reimbursement), and flexible scheduling of appointments. Suggestions are intended to assist in planning for recruitment and retention strategies.