Selecting participants who constitute a representative sample while protecting them from potential adverse outcomes is a concern for clinical researchers. Our research group conducts deep phenotyping studies of the circadian timing system and sleep–wake regulation in long (up to 3 months) laboratory experiments, similar in many ways to “exceptional environment” conditions. Here, we describe the psychological screening process we have used for more than 30 years. We outline our “Select In” and “Select Out” measures within three major categories: psychological, psychophysiological, and psychosocial factors. We describe the screening process, inclusion–exclusion criteria on standard questionnaires, and clinical interview questions. We also describe how we manage the exclusion process during screening, ensure continued psychological health during the laboratory study, and manage study terminations. We present data from one recent study, outlining the number of individuals excluded at each stage of the process and present subjective mood data from the included individuals, showing the trajectory of mood across the five-week laboratory study and the end-of-study debriefing, during which the participants rated their comfort with various aspects of the study and their willingness to return for a future study. While designed for our inpatient research studies, elements of these procedures may also be useful for selecting individuals for other exceptional environments.
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