The HARMONY study

We are glad to invite you to participate in HARMONY, a cutting-edge international collaboration study led by Professor Philip McGuire, involving a world-class consortium of experts.

What is the problem being addressed?

Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. It affects approximately 3% of the population, and usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood.

Before the first episode of psychosis, people usually experience less intense symptoms as well as difficulties in their daily functioning (for example, at school or work). However, not every person who experience attenuated symptoms has the same risk of developing a psychotic disorder. Because of this, we need to improve our ability to detect who is at an increased risk of having a serious mental health problem in the future. This is important to provide timely support, improve life quality, and prevent or delay a future mental health issue.

How is the study trying to help solve the problem?

HARMONY seeks to improve detection of people at increased risks of experiencing psychosis. This will be achieved by using the most up-to-date data analytics and brain scan technologies, and the collaboration of research teams across the world. We hope that this knowledge would help clinicians delivering interventions tailored to each person’s individual needs.

Who is eligible for the study?

We are looking for people aged 16-40 at increased risk of experiencing mental health disorders. We are also recruiting people who do not have a personal history of mental illness.

What does participation in the study involve?

Participants will be asked to take part in 6 assessments visits, over a period of 2 years. Each assessment visit will be different, and will consist of a different combination of:

• Interviews and questionnaires to collect information about participants’ symptoms and life experiences.

• Brain scan using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain functioning and structure.

• Cognitive tests to evaluate thinking skills, such as memory and attention.

• Collection of other biological samples, such as saliva and hair.

Visit our FAQ setion for more information on brain scans. Further details on the study can be fully discussed with the research team if you are interested in participating.

What are the benefits of taking part in this research?

By participating in HARMONY, you will be reimbursed for your time at each visit. If you decide to take part in all components of the study, you will receive a total of £380 for your time. You might also be eligible for transport and food expenses when visiting our research facilities in South London for the assessments.

Your participation will contribute to advancing our knowledge of mental health, which could benefit you and other young individuals. It is possible that the information gathered during research could improve the quality of mental care you are currently receiving. If this is the case, you will be given the choice to share this information with your mental health care team.

What are the possible disadvantages of participating?

There are no known risks associated with participating in the interviews or cognitive skills tests. As part of the assessment process you will be asked personal questions by researchers. Some people might find these unpleasant or inconvenient, while others might find them reassuring. Our researchers are professionals with extensive training and experience in working with sensitive personal data.

Taking part in this study will not affect any treatment you currently receive.

We are happy to answer any question you might have regarding risks.

What if I want to participate?

If you are interested in the HARMONY study, please contact us expressing your non-binding desire to participate.

After receiving your request, we will contact you to coordinate for a face-to-face assessment. You will be presented with all the details of the study, including information about the procedures, assessments, benefits and risks. You will also be given the Participant Information Sheet.

Before you decide to participate, it is important that you understand why the research is being done and what your participation will involve. You will access this information in the Participant Information Sheet.

We will ask you whether you want to participate in the study or not. You will need to provide informed consent before being enrolled in the study. You will be able to withdraw from the study at any time.

Do not hesitate to contact us for additional information, we are happy to answer any question you might have.