Overcoming barriers to recruiting ethnic minorities to mental health research: A typology of recruitment strategies

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Background: The ethnic minority population in developed countries is increasing over time. These groups are at higher risk of mental illness and demonstrate lower participation in research. Published evidence suggests that multiple factors like stigma, lack of trust, differences in explanatory models, logistical issues and lack of culturally aware researchers act as barriers to ethnic minority recruitment into mental health research. To reduce inequalities in participation, there is a need to devise innovative and culturally sensitive recruitment strategies. It is important that researchers share their experience of employing these strategies so that ethnic minority participation can be facilitated. Methods: We previously published a systematic review of barriers to recruiting ethnic minority participants into mental health research. The nine papers included in our prior review formed the basis for developing a typology of barriers to recruiting ethnic minorities into mental health research. This typology identified 33 barriers, described under five themes. We further extracted data on the strategies used to overcome these recruitment barriers, as described in the included studies. Results: The strategies employed by the authors could be matched to all but two barriers (psychopathology/substance misuse and limited resource availability). There was evidence that multiple strategies were employed, and that these depended upon the population, clinical set-up and resources available. Conclusions: This typology of strategies to overcome barriers to recruiting ethnic minorities provides guidance on achieving higher rates of recruitment. It is important that researchers plan to deploy these strategies well in advance of initiating recruitment. Whilst adopting these strategies, the authors have not been able to quantify the positive impact of these strategies on recruitment. The typology should encourage researchers to employ these strategies in future research, refine them further and quantitatively evaluate their impact.




Waheed, W., Hughes-Morley, A., Woodham, A., Allen, G., & Bower, P. (2015). Overcoming barriers to recruiting ethnic minorities to mental health research: A typology of recruitment strategies. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-015-0484-z

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