Article Text

Developing a new model for patient recruitment in mental health services: a cohort study using Electronic Health Records
  1. Felicity Callard1,
  2. Matthew Broadbent2,
  3. Mike Denis3,
  4. Matthew Hotopf4,
  5. Murat Soncul5,
  6. Til Wykes6,
  7. Simon Lovestone7,
  8. Robert Stewart8
  1. 1Centre for Medical Humanities and Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK
  2. 2King's College London, SLaM Biomedical Research Centre Nucleus, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK
  3. 3Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), Oxford, UK
  4. 4Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK
  5. 5South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  6. 6Department of Psychology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK
  7. 7Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK
  8. 8King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Felicity Callard; felicity.callard{at}


Objectives To develop a new model for patient recruitment that harnessed the full potential of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Gaining access to potential participants’ health records to assess their eligibility for studies and allow an approach about participation (‘consent for contact’) is ethically, legally and technically challenging, given that medical data are usually restricted to the patient's clinical team. The research objective was to design a model for identification and recruitment to overcome some of these challenges as well as reduce the burdensome (and/or time consuming) gatekeeper role of clinicians in determining who is appropriate or not to participate in clinical research.

Setting Large secondary mental health services context, UK.

Participants 2106 patients approached for ‘consent for contact’. All patients in different services within the mental health trust are gradually and systematically being approached by a member of the clinical care team using the ‘consent for contact’ model. There are no exclusion criteria.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Provision of ‘consent for contact’.

Results A new model (the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Consent for Contact model (SLaM C4C)) for gaining patients’ consent to contact them about research possibilities, which is built around a de-identified EHR database. The model allows researchers to contact potential participants directly. Of 2106 patients approached by 25 October 2013, nearly 3 of every 4 gave consent for contact (1560 patients; 74.1%).

Conclusions The SLaM C4C model offers an effective way of expediting recruitment into health research through using EHRs. It reduces the gatekeeper function of clinicians; gives patients greater autonomy in decisions to participate in research; and accelerates the development of a culture of active research participation. More research is needed to assess how many of those giving consent for contact subsequently consent to participate in particular research studies.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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