Psychiatric Outpatients Report Their Experiences as Participants in a Randomized Clinical Trial

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We conducted exit interviews with 45 outpatients with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) who had participated in a randomized clinical trial. The interviews followed a semistructured format and were audiotaped for later transcription and rating by two independent raters. Content analyses of the interviews revealed that most participants evaluated their experiences quite favorably. For example, most noted that the assessment process was thought-provoking and motivational and that the intervention groups led to increased self-confidence and new friendships. Although a few participants noted that the assessment contained sensitive material, all appreciated the frequent reminders that information disclosed was strictly confidential. These results indicate that persons living with a SPMI often enjoy participating in behavioral research, which can yield immediate benefits to patient-participants. Exit interview research such as this can help investigators to understand reasons for consent and participation, to identify needs for protocol modifications, and to facilitate the integration of evidence-based interventions into the mental health care systems.

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