Clinical studies officers
We employ teams of clinical studies officers who are based at each of our regional offices (known as hubs). Their role is to help recruit participants to research studies and they are trained to carry out assessments needed for the recruitment process.
Our clinical studies officers come from a variety of backgrounds: some are mental health professionals, including mental health nurses, social workers and occupational therapists, for example. Others are psychology graduates or have previously worked as researchers.
To give you an idea of the diversity of their backgrounds, and the range of studies they support, this page features one clinical studies officer (CSO) from each of our hubs.
Clare Holden, North West Hub
Kath Richardson, North East Hub
Alison Stribling, East Anglia Hub
Kate Bransby-Adams, East Midlands Hub plus South Yorkshire
Adam Deuchars, West Hub
Frankie Bower, Heart of England Hub
Andra Cosma, South London and South East Hub
Charlotte Watson, North London Hub
Biography to be added
‘I first joined the North East Hub when I was seconded for two years from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust (TEWV) in August 2009. This followed 30 years working as a registered mental health nurse in various services, ranging from adolescent psychiatry, adult mental health, substance misuse and older people’s mental health services. I worked in hospital units, but mainly in community-based services.
'In May 2010, I became clinical studies officer covering the North East Yorkshire area served by TEWV. This is a large, rural area, home to about 160,000 people.
'Seven MHRN supported studies are currently running in the area, and I am assisting with promotion and recruitment of participants. I engage and liaise with a range of clinical staff, provide presentations, take referrals, contact the study teams, help clinicians identify potential participants, collect information and complete data.
‘The studies currently open are;
‘Molecular Genetics, an investigation into bipolar and related mood disorders. This is a long running study investigating the underlying causes of bipolar disorder;
‘ABC, a study of mood disorder, bipolar 2;
‘OASIS, a trial looking at the side-effects of the different forms of quetiapine, an antipsychotic drug;
‘ACTION, an assessment of offering cognitive therapy instead of antipsychotic medication for people with psychosis;
‘REFOCUS, developing a recovery focus in mental health services in England;
‘FIAT (Financial Incentives for Adherence to Treatment), a trial looking at the effects of giving people a small financial reward for accepting their depot medication;
'CEQUEL, a randomisation study comparing quetiapine (a drug used in the treatment of several mood disorders) combinations in people who have bipolar disorder.
'Some years ago I gained a BA (hons) in Health Studies (Mental Health) and I am currently studying for a MSc in Health Service Research.'
'I graduated from the University of Bath with a BPharm (Hons) Pharmacy degree and completed my pre-registration training at Salisbury District Hospital. At Torbay Hospital, as a rotational Pharmacist, I achieved a Clinical Diploma before concentrating more on aseptic work. As part of this role, I also covered mental health and paediatric inpatient wards. I then became Senior Pharmacist for aseptic and cancer services at North Devon District Hospital. In this role I became more involved with clinical trials, liaising with the clinical research nurses, research consultants, the wards and the study teams.
In October 2010, I joined the MHRN team as a Clinical Studies Officer. The move to the MHRN was a change in direction for me but it combined my interests in research and mental health.
Currently I am supporting 6 studies, some in Cambridgeshire and some in Bedfordshire:
ASPECTS - Acute Stress Programme for Children and Teenagers, which is looking at cognitive behaviour therapy as an early interevention for PTSD in youth, its preliminary efficacy and mechanisms of action. I am screening A&E attendees for possible eligibility. Those who could be suitable are sent information about the study and I follow this up with a phone call. If the families would like to take part I pass their details on to the study team.
DPIM - DNA Polymorphisms in Mental Illness, where I am working with clinicians to identify eligible clients for all 3 arms of the study (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism), taking informed consent, carrying out interviews and obtaining information from clinical notes.
OASIS – Observational Assessment of Safety in Seroquel, monitoring the initial twelve weeks of treatment for patients prescribed quetiapine under the licensed indications of schizophrenia, schizophrenia-like illness and mania associated with bipolar disorder. My role in this study is similar to that for DPIM.
Roche PATTERN - A non-interventional prospective cohort study of patients with persistent symptoms of schizophrenia to describe the course and burden of illness, by assisting with the completion of the SSI form. I will also be helping to recruit participants and carry out assessments.
Servier CL2-20098-072 - Efficacy of Agomelatine during 16 weeks in patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, involving promotion to Intake & Treatment as well as IAPT teams to encourage referrals to the study.
ShIMME - Shared Decision Making in Psychiatric Medication Management, is a training programme for clients and staff in the Rehabilitation & Recovery and Assertive Outreach teams. I am promoting and recruiting interested participants for this study.
I have met many people with a passionate interest in research and a will to get involved, giving me hope that the future will provide more positive outcomes for those affected by mental health issues.'
‘I joined the Mental Health Research Network as a clinical studies officer in 2010. Previously, I spent many years in pre-clinical research as a neurobiologist; initially in Edinburgh and then at the University of Nottingham where I completed my PhD in Neuroanatomy. For many years, I threw my energies into life as a post-doctoral research fellow, enjoying the opportunities to travel to the USA to work in a lab in Texas, to present talks to Russian scientists in Moscow and to pass on technical expertise to fellow neurobiologists in Marburg, Germany. However, I became increasingly interested in the living brain and the mind. I changed career direction towards the psychological perspectives of brain function and became part of the MHRN team in the East Midlands where I have enjoyed the diversity of projects and people with which I have been involved.
'The studies I am currently working on are:
'ADHD and Wellbeing: an observational study that considers the impact a child with ADHD has on the health and well-being of the family.
'PARADES: a randomised controlled trial of group psychoeducation vs group support using both expert patients and trust staff in the management of bipolar disorder. This part of the PARADES programme aims to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of joint expert patient- and health professional-led group psychoeducation for bipolar disorder. It is hoped to demonstrate that that such group psychoeducation is feasible and sustainable across different NHS sites, and is clinically and cost effective compared to group support
'Molecular investigation of bipolar disorder: this study identifies susceptibility genes for bipolar and related mood disorders. It is hoped that this will facilitate the development of more effective treatments.
'GAPP (Group ADHD Parenting Programme): it has been shown that early intervention for childhood behavioural problems may help improve health and educational outcomes in affected children and prevent the onset of additional problems. With this aim, the study team are recruiting through primary schools throughout Nottinghamshire, to test the implementation of a parenting programme for children with high levels of behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention.'
“So you wear a lab coat, and write things down on a clip board all day long?” This is the response from a former colleague when reflecting on my move from working clinically to working for the MHRN as a Clinical Studies Officer. The role of CSO is deceptively simple; promote and encourage participation in mental health research amongst service users, carers and clinicians. This seemingly straightforward task involves a broad range of skills. It fits well with my clinical background as a mental health nurse and constantly requires me to be flexible and responsive in my day to day work. I do use my clinical skills and knowledge on a daily basis to engage people from varying backgrounds, form relationships, assess capacity, complete clinical interviews and tasks like taking blood.
One of my aims for entering in to nursing, over ten years ago now, was to help people with mental health problems to the best of my ability. What better way to do this than to support research? It is a rewarding and positive environment to work in. Playing a role in adding to our knowledge, working to improve outcomes and ensuring as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate in mental health research; this is the working reality of a CSO. No lab coat required.
'I graduated from the University of Leeds in May 2010, with a degree in psychology. During my degree, I volunteered with the University’s ‘Nightline’ responding to students in physical or emotional need. I also volunteered for the charity Mind running a weekly support group and I worked for Mencap with people with learning difficulties on a summer scheme. I have worked as a domiciliary carer for older people for Care Watch since I was 17 on different occasions.
'I moved to Cambridge in October 2010 and was employed with social services, where I worked as a care manager for older people. I started working as a trainee clinical studies officer for Northamptonshire NHS Foundation Trust in July 2011. Currently, I volunteer as an assistant psychologist for child and adolescent mental health services in Northamptonshire and I am studying for my certificate in counselling.
'I am recruiting to a number of studies in the trust:
'ADEPT (understanding and preventing adverse effects of psychological therapies.) This is a questionnaire study looking to investigate therapists and clients experiences of ‘failed’ therapies, to explore what they would have found helpful in preventing the adverse outcome.
'ECHO (Expert Carers Helping Others), is a package of care offered to anorexia sufferers and their parents and carers, it is a randomised trial.
'LEAP (Loughborough Eating disorders Activity Therapy) is a study which aims to test a new form of psychological treatment (talking therapy) for people suffering from anorexia nervosa.
'OASIS (Seroquel XL and IR hospital-event monitoring study) is a questionnaire study based on participant notes monitoring the short-term (up to 12 weeks) use and safety of quetiapine XL and quetiapine IR prescribed to patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and related psychoses, plus manic episodes usually associated with bipolar disorder.
'DPIM (DNA Polymorphisms) is split into two arms looking at service users with alcoholism and schizophrenia. It involves a questionnaire and blood sample, to explore the genetic causes of mental illness through DNA analysis and genetic variations that influence treatment response and explain causes of psychiatric illness.
'i-BASIS (British Autism Study of Infant Siblings) This study focuses on whether a given programme could help the social and communicative development of infants from families where autism exists and whether any future autistic spectrum disorder symptoms that might develop in some of these infants could be modified.
'PARADES: a questionnaire study which examines awareness of advance planning under the mental capacity act amongst adult service users with bipolar disorder and psychiatrists practicing in general adult and old age psychiatry.
'Asc and Psychosis (the association between autism spectrum disorders and psychosis), is a study looking at the genetics and symptoms of people with autism spectrum conditions and mental health problems.'
‘I am a clinical studies officer at South London and South East Hub, but based at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. My background is in psychology: I have an MSc in Applied Psychological Research, and a BSc in psychology. Prior to joining the Mental Health Research Network, I worked as an assistant psychologist, and then as a research assistant at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
‘My current role involves recruiting eligible service users to studies, carrying out assessments with service users, carers and care coordinators, and providing information and support to eligible service users.
‘At present, I work on five research projects, which vary from interventional trials to observational studies.
‘CASIS and iMANTRA-R are two interventional trials that are investigating different ways in which relapse of anorexia nervosa can be reduced.
‘OCTET is an interventional trial that is exploring whether the use of Community Treatment Orders in patients with psychosis and a history of compulsory admissions will reduce their readmission to hospital.
‘ENDEAVOR is another interventional study working with psychosis patients, but its main aim is to compare the effectiveness of two vocational rehabilitation interventions in helping people attain and retain employment following a first episode of psychosis.
‘Finally I am also helping VoRAMSS, an observational cohort study that aims to validate a new risk assessment instrument for use with patients discharged from medium secure services.’
‘I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2008, where I studied psychology. The summer after graduation, I volunteered as an honorary assistant psychologist at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital Foundation Trust. I then joined the North London Hub of the MHRN as a clinical studies officer. I am currently recruiting participants to six studies.
‘CASIS is a study that is testing the effectiveness of support for carers of people with eating disorders. CASIS stands for Carers Assessment, Skills and Information Sharing. It is a randomised trial and aims to find out whether providing information and teaching skills to carers of people with anorexia nervosa improves the cost-effectivness of inpatient and outpatient treatment and care, and if the well-being of carers is improved.
‘OPERA (Older People’s Exercise intervention in Residential and nursing Accommodation) is looking to see if the physical and mental health of older people living in residential and nursing homes can be improved through a whole home intervention that encourages more physical activity.
‘OCTET (Oxford Community Treatment Order Evaluation Trial) tests the hypothesis that the use of Community Treatment Orders for people with psychosis and a history of compulsory admissions will result in a reduction in re-admissions to hospital.
‘IMPACT is a randomised controlled trial comparing three different treatments for young people with depressive illness to see which is best.
‘NOURISHED is a randomised controlled trial evaluating whether Mentalization Based Therapy is clinically and cost-effective for people with both eating disorders and symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
‘MOSAIC is a study testing the efficacy, cost and cost-effectiveness of the Maudsley Model of Treatment for Adults with Anorexia Nervosa (MANTRA). It is a randomised controlled trial and compares MANTRA with specialist outpatients treatment.’
page last updated 12 November 2013