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Who’s who in mental health? A medical market research overview

The lowdown

Despite the stigma still surrounding it, mental health problems are incredibly common in the UK. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, making mental health the largest cause of disability in the UK.Of those that do suffer from mental health issues, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Sadly, despite mental health problems affecting a quarter of the population, government funding has fallen in recent years.Recent studies have found that the funding for NHS trusts to provide mental health services has fallen 8.25% over the course of the last parliament – and worryingly, there has been a 10% decline in the number of mental health nurses, too which of course has an impact on medial market research as well as patient treatment.

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There are a number of different problems that fall under the mental health umbrella. Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder in the UK with 9.7 in every 100 people suffering from it, with anxiety on its own coming in second place affecting 4.7 in 100 people whilst post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects 3 in 100.

Other mental health problems include phobias, OCD, panic disorders, sleep disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia as well as eating disorders, drug abuse and alcohol addiction. Depending on the problem, patients will be have a tailored treatment plan administered by a multidisciplinary team including:

Adult Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. Whilst a psychiatrists can prescribe medications and provide psychological support for people with long-term, painful or terminal health conditions, they often do not counsel patients.

The breakdown of Psychiatrists in England is as follows:

  • 5, 723 total Psychiatrists
  • 1,010 that specialise in Paediatrics (see below for this section)
  • 1,143 that specialise in older people
  • 450 that specialise in learning disabilities
  • 85 who focus on psychotherapies

Medical Market Research

Psychiatrists are often willing to participate in medical market research and can be recruited for both qualitative and quantitative studies. We have a good source of pre-existing contacts and some recent examples of studies with this participant include:

  • 20 x Psychiatrist treating Depression for a 40 minute CATi interview
  • 12 x Psychiatrists treating Adult ADHD for a 60 minute in-office interview
  • 5 x Psychiatrists treating Alzheimer’s for an in-office interview directly after a patient consultation
  • 10 x Psychiatrists and 5 x Specialist Nurses treating Schizophrenia for a central location interview in Manchester
  • 6 x Psychiatrists treating Schizophrenia, 5 x patients, 10 x carers for central location interviews across the UK

Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist

A child psychiatrist will have special training in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems in children and there are 1,010 of them in England Whilst they can provide psychological support and prescribe medications, they aren’t allowed to provide psychotherapy.

There are significantly fewer of these in England so we would assume qualitative methodologies only such as telephone interviews or online focus groups. If required for central location interviews we’d recommend IDIs and small sample sizes only.

Psychiatrist/Mental Health Nurse

The role of mental health nurses is to support psychiatrists in the treatment of patients. They also act as the patient’s point of contact regarding any concerns or queries, and facilitate communication with other care team members, alerting them to any issues that may arise.  Mental health nurses are registered practitioners with a graduate degree followed by specialised training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses.

Specialist nurses are more difficult to recruit for medical market research based on how little time they have available. However, we have recruited this respondent type for central location and online surveys in the past and are familiar with the best ways to recruit them and methodologies that would appeal to this time-conscious respondent type. Read our blog – for our best advice on this area.


Psychologists are experts in the study of how people think and behave. They use a combination of science and practices from direct observation and interviews to techniques such as psychometric testing to assess each patient’s individual problems. Using our custom recruitment approach we can target these respondents types for medical market research studies offering a different perspective to the norm.

Social Worker

Social workers are counsellors with a master’s degree in social work from an accredited graduate programme. Usually found in a hospital setting, they are trained to make diagnoses, run individual and group counselling sessions and also provide case management and advocacy. They also support patients during transitions, such as moving going to university or starting a new job, referring patients to specialist help and advice when needed.

There are over 5,000 Adult Psychiatrists working in England as part of the NHS, meaning this specialty would be suitable for both qualitative and quantitative studies.

If you’ve got a  study coming up download our therapy area guide.