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Unfortunately, older minority adults are unlikely to ever receive these effective interventions because of the access and cultural barriers that interfere with help-seeking behavior and treatment effectiveness (Biegel, Farkas, & Song, 1997; Black, Rabins, German, Mc Guire, & Roca, 1997; Miller et al., 1997; Swartz et al., 1998).Although underutilization of mental health services by older minorities has been an important focus for Congress, the National Institutes of Health, and numerous professional organizations, this attention has not resulted in changes of utilization patterns in this population (U. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001; Fellin & Powell, 1988).However, the typical geriatric sample in mental health studies is 86–90% White (Areán & Gallagher-Thompson, 1996).This article reviews the problems associated with recruiting older minorities into mental health research studies and proposes a consumer-centered model of research methodology that addresses the barriers to recruitment and retention in this population.The authors discuss and compare the results of recruitment and retention interventions for two geriatric mental health studies, one that used traditional methods of recruitment and retention and another that used consumer-centered methods.Studies that successfully recruit older adults tend to focus on overcoming instrumental barriers, such as increasing knowledge about the study through the media, providing transportation to the research site, providing monetary incentives to complete follow-up assessments, and minimizing participant confusion by having the same interviewer administer baseline and follow-up assessments over time (Thompson & Gallagher, 1984).These strategies have been helpful in recruiting and retaining older adults into mental health studies.


Although these data are observational, and rigorous research on the best methods for recruiting and retaining older minorities is still necessary, the results suggest that a consumer-centered model of research yields greater overall recruitment and retention rates than do traditional research methods.According to the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health in Older Americans (Satcher, 2000), mental illness in the elderly can be effectively treated with current psychopharmacology and psychotherapy.


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