Older Adults' Perspectives on Clinical Research: A Focus Group and Survey Study

Eric J. Lenze, Alex Ramsey, Patrick J. Brown, Charles F. Reynolds, Benoit H. Mulsant, Helen Lavretsky, Steven P. Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives Clinical trials can benefit from patient perspectives to inform trial design, such as choice of outcome measures. We engaged older adults in focus groups and surveys to get their perspective regarding needs in clinical research. The goal was to inform the development of a new clinical trial of medication strategies for treatment-resistant depression in older adults. Methods Older adults with depression participated in focus groups and a subsequent survey in St. Louis and New York. They were queried regarding research design features including outcomes, clinical management, mobile technology and iPad-administered assessments, the collection of DNA, and the receipt of their personal results. Results Patients told us: (1) psychological well-being and symptomatic remission are outcomes that matter to them; (2) it is important to measure not only benefits but risks (such as risk of falling) of medications; (3) for pragmatic trials in clinical settings, the research team should provide support to clinicians to ensure that medications are properly prescribed; (4) technology-based assessments are acceptable but there were concerns about data security and burden; (5) DNA testing is very important if it could improve precision care; (6) participants want to receive aggregate findings and their own personal results at the end of the study. Conclusions Patients gave useful and wide-ranging guidance regarding clinical and comparative effectiveness research in older adults. We discuss these findings with the goal of making the next generation of geriatric studies more impactful and patient-centered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-902
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • antidepressant
  • older adults
  • patient perspectives
  • treatment-resistant depression


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