PhenX Measures for Mental Health Research (MHR)

On August 10, 2013, President Obama announced a National Research Action Plan (NRAP) designed to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and military families. Focused on traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide prevention, NRAP calls for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify common data elements (CDEs) that facilitate sharing of research data.

In response to NRAP, NIMH launched the PhenX Measures for Mental Health Research Project. The goal of this project is to establish a common currency that will enable a better understanding of the etiology, progression, and treatment of suicide, PTSD, and other mental health conditions by selecting high-quality mental health-related measures and protocols for inclusion in the PhenX Toolkit. Consistent use of PhenX measures, and thus CDEs, will make it easier for investigators to compare results from different studies and to combine data sets to create larger sample sizes, increasing statistical power and the ability to detect more subtle and complex associations among variables.

Mental Health Research Panel (MHRP)

The Mental Health Research Panel (MHRP), composed of nine scientists and co-chaired by Dr. Deanna Barch and Dr. Ian Gotlib, provides the overall direction and guidance to the PhenX Measures for Mental Health Research Project. The roles of the MHRP are to:

  • Create a "Core" Collection of measures for use by all mental health researchers
  • Refine the scope of the Post-traumatic Stress Psychopathology (including PTSD), Suicide, Eating Disorders, and Early Psychosis Specialty Areas
  • Help identify individuals to serve as members of the Working Groups (WGs)
  • Identify an MHRP member to serve as liaison to each WG

Mental Health Working (MHR) Groups

Four WGs (WG 1: Suicide, WG2: Post-traumatic Stress Psychopathology (including PTSD), WG 3: Eating Disorders, WG 4: Early Psychosis ) composed of five to eleven scientists with relevant expertise were assembled to select measures for each Specialty Collection. Each WG was led by a chair or co-chairs and was supported by a PhenX WG supervisor and manager. The Suicide and Post-traumatic Stress Psychopathology (including PTSD) Working Groups included nonvoting liaisons from the MHRP, NIMH, DoD, and VA. The Eating Disorders Working Group included a nonvoting liaison from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The Early Psychosis Working Group included a liaison from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The tasks of the WGs were to:

  • Identify and review well-established measures and instruments currently in use in the field
  • Examine mental health - related measures in the PhenX Toolkit to ensure that new measures complement existing Toolkit content
  • Select preliminary measures to share with the research community and get feedback (community outreach)
  • Suggest groups in the research community for the community outreach efforts
  • Consider feedback from community outreach when deciding the high-priority MHR measures to be included in the Toolkit
  • Present recommended measures to the MHRP and the PhenX Steering Committee (SC) for approval

Criteria for Selecting Measures

WGs selected measures for the PhenX Toolkit using criteria suggested by the PhenX SC. The criteria for selecting PhenX measures are:

  • Clearly defined
  • Well established and have demonstrated
  • Broadly applicable and generally accepted
  • Low burden to participants and investigators
  • Reproducible
  • Specific
  • Reliable
  • Available and have existing standard measurement protocols

Additional criteria for selecting PhenX measures include:

  • Crosscutting relevance for population groups as well as diseases and conditions
  • Use in major reference study (e.g., the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)
  • Open-source software and nonproprietary instruments preferred
  • Brevity
  • Expectation of acceptance by the research community

PhenX Measures for Mental Health Senior Management Team

Gregory K. Farber, PhD
National Institute of Mental Health
Rebecca Boyles, MS
PhenX MHR WG Supervisor
Adam Haim, PhD
National Institute of Mental Health
Wayne Huggins, PhD
PhenX MHRP Coordinator, PhenX MHR WG Supervisor
Erin M. Ramos, PhD, MPH
PhenX Project Scientist
Deborah R. Maiese, MPA
PhenX Consensus Coordinator
Carol M. Hamilton, PhD
PhenX Principal Investigator
Marcie Rathbun, BS
PhenX MHR WG Manager
Tabitha Hendershot, BA
PhenX Co-Investigator
Amanda Riley, PMP
PhenX Project Manager
Violet Abraham, BS
PhenX MHR WG Manager

PhenX Measures for Mental Health Funding Organizations

National Human Genome Research Institute

Erin M. Ramos, PhD, MPH
PhenX Project Scientist
Brenda Iglesias, BA
PhenX Scientific Program Analyst
Margaret Ginoza
PhenX Scientific Program Analyst

National Institute of Mental Health

Gregory K. Farber, PhD
Director, Office of Technology Development and Coordination
Adam Haim, PhD
Chief, Clinical Trials Operations and Biostatistics Branch

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Kevin P. Conway, PhD
Deputy Director, Division of Epidemiology Services and Prevention Research