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BioMed Central, BMC Psychiatry, 1(23), 2023

DOI: 10.1186/s12888-023-04890-x



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Sociodemographic, mental health, and physical health factors associated with participation within re-contactable mental health cohorts: an investigation of the GLAD Study

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract Background The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study is a large cohort of individuals with lifetime anxiety and/or depression, designed to facilitate re-contact of participants for mental health research. At the start of the pandemic, participants from three cohorts, including the GLAD Study, were invited to join the COVID-19 Psychiatry and Neurological Genetics (COPING) study to monitor mental and neurological health. However, previous research suggests that participation in longitudinal studies follows a systematic, rather than random, process, which can ultimately bias results. Therefore, this study assessed participation biases following the re-contact of GLAD Study participants. Methods In April 2020, all current GLAD Study participants (N = 36,770) were invited to the COPING study. Using logistic regression, we investigated whether sociodemographic, mental, and physical health characteristics were associated with participation in the COPING baseline survey (aim one). Subsequently, we used a zero-inflated negative binomial regression to examine whether these factors were also related to participation in the COPING follow-up surveys (aim two). Results For aim one, older age, female gender identity, non-binary or self-defined gender identities, having one or more physical health disorders, and providing a saliva kit for the GLAD Study were associated with an increased odds of completing the COPING baseline survey. In contrast, lower educational attainment, Asian or Asian British ethnic identity, Black or Black British ethnic identity, higher alcohol consumption at the GLAD sign-up survey, and current or ex-smoking were associated with a reduced odds. For aim two, older age, female gender, and saliva kit provision were associated with greater COPING follow-up survey completion. Lower educational attainment, higher alcohol consumption at the GLAD Study sign-up, ex-smoking, and self-reported attention deficit hyperactivity disorder had negative relationships. Conclusions Participation biases surrounding sociodemographic and physical health characteristics were particularly evident when re-contacting the GLAD Study volunteers. Factors associated with participation may vary depending on study design. Researchers should examine the barriers and mechanisms underlying participation bias in order to combat these issues and address recruitment biases in future studies.