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Exploring the ability of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to respond to new valuable knowledge: the influence of professionals and internal organisational processes

Lida Efstathopoulou (Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)
Paul Sanderson (Faculty of Business and Law, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)
Hilary Bungay (Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 8 September 2022

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Health policies in England highlight the need for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to embed new knowledge in practice, yet evidence remains scarce about the services’ ability to learn from the external environment. This paper aims to present a critical analysis of the CAMHS’ ability to implement new knowledge through the lens of absorptive capacity, an organisation’s ability to identify, assimilate and use new valuable knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with staff from the CAMHS department of a mental health organisation in England to explore the services’ absorptive capacity.

Findings

Professionals were identified having an impact on the main absorptive capacity components in the following ways: professional background and perceived reliability of knowledge sources appeared to affect knowledge identification; informal communication was found to facilitate knowledge assimilation and exploitation; trust was found to enable knowledge exploitation, particularly between senior management and frontline professionals. At an organisational level, team meetings and internal reporting were identified as enablers to knowledge assimilation and exploitation, while organisational hierarchy and patient data management systems were identified as barriers to knowledge assimilation. No organisational processes were found regarding knowledge identification, indicating an imbalanced investment in the main components of absorptive capacity.

Practical implications

Investing in these underpinning factors of absorptive capacity can assist CAMHS with capitalising on new knowledge that is valuable to service provision.

Originality/value

This study offers novel insights into the learning ability of CAMHS through the lens of absorptive capacity.

Keywords

Citation

Efstathopoulou, L., Sanderson, P. and Bungay, H. (2023), "Exploring the ability of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to respond to new valuable knowledge: the influence of professionals and internal organisational processes", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 19-32. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-11-2021-0083

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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