Engagement and retention of suicide attempters in clinical research: Challenges and solutions
Gibbons, C.J., Stirman, S.W., Brown, G.K., & Beck, A.T.
Background High attrition rates in longitudinal research can limit study generalizability, threaten internal validity, and decrease statistical power. Research has demonstrated that there can be significant differences between participants who complete a research study and those who drop out prematurely, and that treatment outcomes may be dependent on retention in a treatment protocol. Aims The current paper describes the challenges encountered when implementing a randomized controlled trial of cognitive therapy for the prevention of suicide attempts and the solutions developed to overcome these problems. Methods Problems unique to suicide attempters are discussed, and strategies successfully implemented to boost retention rates are provided. Results The methods implemented appeared to increase retention rates in the randomized controlled trial. Conclusions Many steps can be taken to work with this difficult population, and researchers are encouraged to be as involved and flexible with participants as possible.