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Appreciating collaborative service improvement – a case study on using appreciative inquiry methodology in co-production in mental health

Nicholas Dent (Department of Patient Experience, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, Canterbury, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 15 July 2019

Issue publication date: 19 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of appreciative inquiry (AI) methodology in enabling co-productive work within mental health service development.


The methodology of AI is described and observations on its use in mental health service improvement are considered.


AI is a really helpful tool in supporting service improvement and is particularly applicable in mental health discussions involving service users and carers. Many service users and carers engaging with service development discussions have had adverse past experiences which can inhibit their successful contribution to planning discussions. AI allows a more positive reflection on how services can be improved which can help achieve positive results.

Research limitations/implications

AI methodology is a really useful tool in supporting improvement discussions across health, and other public, services, and is particularly valuable in engaging mental health service users and carers in such activity.

Practical implications

The method is useful across service development needs and could be developed to support mental health service improvement locally, regionally and nationally. Developing the use of this method could make a real contribution to improving relations between service users, carers and health staff and support meaningful and positive change in the delivery of mental health services.

Social implications

Helping to overcome dissonance between service users and carers, and health staff and commissioners; and developing the use of appreciative enquiry could enhance the value of co-production as a key driver for service improvement.


The author is aware of little discussion of the value of appreciative enquiry in the growing literature around co-production in mental health.



Dent, N. (2019), "Appreciating collaborative service improvement – a case study on using appreciative inquiry methodology in co-production in mental health", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 105-111.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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