There are many examples of consumer involvement in NHS research but few studies have examined the impact of this on service development or the research process. This study, involving service user and carer researchers working alongside professional researchers, aimed to examine the development of one service user and carer research group in a mental health Trust.
The research involved a review of existing literature on consumer involvement in research, a review of user involvement in research in South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust, a survey of consumers and NHS staff in the Trust, and a skills audit and training needs analysis of consumers.
The study identified the range and extent of consumer involvement and the impact of this on consumers and the Trust. Service users and carers were involved in a range of projects, mainly on the level of consultation or collaboration. The benefits for consumers were principally on a personal level and included gaining knowledge and experience, improved sense of well‐being, self esteem, and confidence. The benefit for the Trust was in having a service user perspective and focus. However, there is a tendency to omit service users from planning and setting priorities.
The study pointed to the need to build the evidence base on consumer involvement in research, particularly in terms of how consumers can impact on setting research priorities and selecting appropriate methods. It identifies the need for more training for consumers and for NHS staff and for a more coherent strategy.
This article will be of value to anyone who is at the start or in the early stages of their journey of consumer involvement. It identifies some of the practical issues faced by consumers and staff in working collaboratively, but also points to the benefits for all the stakeholders.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of service user and carer involvement in NHS research and describe the nature of this involvement in three specialist…
The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of service user and carer involvement in NHS research and describe the nature of this involvement in three specialist mental health Trusts. It also aims to discuss the value of service user and carer involvement and present the perspective of the service user and research manager.
The paper reviews patient and public involvement policy and practice in the NHS and NHS research. It examines the effectiveness of involvement activity and utilises a case example to demonstrate the impact of patient/service user involvement on the NHS and the individuals who take part.
The paper concludes that service user involvement is essential if research is to support the development of health services that clearly reflect the needs of the service user and impact positively on service quality.
Service user involvement is an established element of NHS research and development at both national and local level. The Department of Health strategy for research, Best Research for Best Health, reiterates both the importance of research that benefits the patient and the involvement of the service user in the research process. Despite this, the changes in Department of Health support funding for research, introduced by the strategy, may inadvertently lead to some NHS Trusts experiencing difficulty in resourcing this important activity.
The paper illustrates the effectiveness of successful patient and public involvement in research. It also identifies how involvement has developed in a fragmented and uncoordinated way and how it is threatened by a failure to embed it more consistently in research infrastructure.
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– The aim of the research is to assess the extent and value of mental health service user (MHSU) involvement in research in England.
The aim of the research is to assess the extent and value of mental health service user (MHSU) involvement in research in England.
This is a knowledge review, including academic and “grey” literature, and documented testimonial evidence.
The involvement of MHSUs in mental health research has become mainstream. There is clear evidence that involving MHSUs in research adds value. Four gaps in the literature were identified. First, a lack of evidence from non-service-user researchers about their experience of working with MHSUs. Second, a lack of recognition that anyone involved in research may hold more than one role. Third, failure to treat carers as separate from MHSUs, or – often – to include them at all. Fourth, a lack of understanding that MHSUs may have a useful role to play in research on topics other than mental health.
The literature would benefit from some evidence about non-service-user researchers’ experiences of working with MHSU researchers. Carers should be recognised much more widely as different from MHSUs and with a valid role to play in mental health research from their own perspectives. MHSU researchers, and carer researchers, should be offered opportunities for involvement in research on topics other than mental health.
The evidence shows that involving service users in research can benefit everyone involved and the research itself. The process can be challenging for all concerned. However, there is now plenty of guidance about how to involve service users in research for maximum benefit to all (e.g. Faulkner, 2004b; SURGE, 2005; Morgan, 2006; Tew et al., 2006; Kotecha et al., 2007; Schrank and Wallcraft, 2008, pp. 243-247; Leiba, 2010, pp. 160-169; Armes et al., 2011; Morrow et al., 2012, p. 114). This guidance should be consulted by researchers, funders, ethics committees, and other stakeholders at the earliest possible stage of any relevant project.
It is essential to recognise and acknowledge that anyone involved in research may hold more than one role. Embracing multiple and mutable identities is not an easy process, as the literature shows, and attempts to do so are likely to produce resistance at every level. Nevertheless, the example of the survivor researchers suggests that doing this has the potential to enrich our individual and collective experience, and therefore society as a whole.
The paper is written by an independent researcher who is also a carer for people with mental health problems: a viewpoint which is rarely found in the literature. The literature suggests that power imbalances and identity issues are at the root of most difficulties and gaps. Social identity and categorisation theory offers a useful theoretical perspective. The paper will be of value to anyone interested in mental health research, whether as a student, service user/survivor, researcher or teacher.