International Psychogeriatrics

Research Article

Recruiting older men for geriatric suicide research

Sunil S. Bhara1a2 c1, Shannon Wiltsey-Stirmana3a4, David Zembroskia1, Laura McCraya5, David W. Oslina1a6, Gregory K. Browna1 and Aaron T. Becka1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

a2 Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia

a3 Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

a4 Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

a5 Department of Family Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, USA

a6 The VISN 4 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the Philadelphia Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia, USA


Background: Clinical research is required to develop and evaluate suicide prevention interventions in the elderly. However, there is insufficient information available about how to best recruit suicidal older adults for such research. This study evaluated the success and efficiency of five recruitment strategies for a clinical trial on the efficacy of cognitive therapy for suicidal older men.

Methods: For each strategy, the numbers of individuals approached, screened, and enrolled were calculated, and the expenses and time associated with each enrollment estimated. Men who were 60 years or older and who had a desire for suicide over the past month were eligible for the trial.

Results: Of 955 individuals considered for trial, 33 were enrolled. Most enrollments were sourced from the Veterans Affairs Behavioral Health Laboratory. Recruiting form this source was also the most time and cost efficient recruitment strategy in the study.

Conclusions: Recruitment strategies are effective when they are based on collaborative relationships between researchers and providers, and utilize an existing infrastructure for involving patients in ongoing research opportunities.

(Received April 07 2012)

(Reviewed May 08 2012)

(Revised July 12 2012)

(Accepted July 16 2012)

(Online publication August 29 2012)

Key words:

  • aging;
  • research design and methodology;
  • suicide


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Sunil S. Bhar, PhD, Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre, Swinburne University of Technology, H99, PO Box 218, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia. Phone: +613-9214-8371; Fax: +613-9214-8912. Email: