Barriers to recruiting ethnic minorities to mental health research: a systematic review

Gillian Brown, Max Marshall, Peter Bower, Adrine Woodham, Waquas Waheed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Disparities in the prevalence of mental illness are widely reported for people from ethnic minorities. Unlike the United States, there is no legislation for clinical research in the UK to mandate the inclusion of ethnic minorities and they are underrepresented in European trials compared with those conducted in the United States. This restricts generalization of research findings. This systematic review of the barriers to the recruitment of ethnic minority participants into psychiatric research is based on a comprehensive literature search. Nine included papers explore such barriers based on the authors’ and participants’ experiences of research. These barriers are mainly categorized as: participant related, practical issues, family/community related, health service related and research process issues. This review provides a compilation of important barriers to recruitment which can facilitate future research. The barriers that were identified are not all unique to participants from ethnic minorities, although the way in which they manifest themselves is often distinct in minority groups. It is important that these barriers are considered when designing research design so that solutions to overcome such obstacles can be incorporated in research protocols from the start and appropriate resources allocated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Barriers
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Mental health research
  • Recruitment
  • Systematic review


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