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Improving Recruitment into Clinical Trials

DiReCT tested the establishment of a cohort of patients with common mental health problems who can participate in clinical research

National policy states that any eligible patient will be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical research

‎DiReCT: Improving Recruitment into Clinical Trials

Embedding research in clinical services is a core function of the NHS. National policy states that any eligible patient will be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical research. Currently, patients with depression do not get this chance. Most trials recruit less than 10% of eligible participants and only 30% of trials for depression recruit to target and on time.

DiReCT tested a new systematic recruitment method for participants with common mental health problems into clinical research, including observational studies and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of psychological treatments – the 'Cohort Multiple RCT' (cmRCT) system.

DiReCT's aim was to establish a cohort of patients with common mental health problems in Devon who can participate in clinical research. This is a relatively new idea and as such we conducted a ‘proof of principle’ exercise in three areas:

  1. The ETHICS TEST: how ethically acceptable is the cmRCT system?
  2. The RECRUITMENT TEST: what proportion of NHS patients with common mental health problems will agree to join the DiReCT cohort?
  3. The TRIALS TEST: how many patients in the DiReCT cohort would consent to being randomly selected to receive new treatments?

DiReCT used the cmRCT method to establish a longitudinal cohort of patients with common mental health problems using a research recruitment method which is closely aligned to the way treatments are offered to patients in routine clinical practice. Our partners included ethicists, patients with lived experience of depression, clinicians, academics and the Depression and Anxiety Service of Devon Partnership NHS Trust.

DiReCT was led by Professor David Richards, Professor of Mental Health Services Research and NIHR Senior Investigator. The project was funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

For more information

The results of the DiReCT study were published in Trials 2014, 15:398

You can also download the DiReCT Poster here‌.