Date: 14 May 2018
Mental health research experts from across the country came together at a national awards event to celebrate the very best examples of service user and carer involvement in mental health research studies and find out the winners of the NIHR CRN, McPin Foundation & MQ Service User and Carer Involvement Awards 2018.
The National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (CRN) teamed up with two leading mental health charities, the McPin Foundation and MQ: Transforming Mental Health, to run this year’s award for the second year. The awards ceremony, held on Tuesday 24 April, was attended by research teams, including service user researchers.
The awards were presented by Sophie Dix, Director of Research at MQ: Transforming Mental Health, and Vanessa Pinfold, Cofounder and Research Director at McPin. This year, there were two joint winners:
Professor Max Birchwood and his team ran a study assessing the effectiveness of a collaborative care model in improving both physical and mental health of people with ongoing mental health needs. The physical health of people with long term mental health conditions is often poor – and by breaking down the barriers between primary and secondary provision of healthcare, the study aims to investigate the impacts of a collaborative care model in improving wellbeing and quality of life.
The panel members were impressed that the team held Lived Experience Advisory Panels at each of the research sites, which had a clear influence on shaping the research process. Service user researchers were involved in collecting data and worked alongside research assistants during the research process.
One panel member commented that: “The integration of service user researchers within the research team came across strongly.” Another member of the panel said they “were excited to see a strong commitment to breaking down the boundaries between the service users and academic staff working on the study”.
Professor Karina Lovell and her team at the University of Manchester ran a study assessing whether increased service user and carer involvement can lead to positive outcome for both healthcare systems and their users. If meaningful service user and carer involvement in care planning is to be achieved, there is a pressing need to agree and foster a system-wide, user-centred model of collaboration and involvement. The research programme aimed to address the gap between policy and practice through this programme of work - designing, evaluating, implementing and disseminating a training intervention for mental health professionals, co-designed and co-delivered with service users and carers.
One panel member commented that “The study demonstrated excellent examples of peer researcher support as well as innovative methods of dissemination.”
The panel felt that the service user-developed ‘train the trainer’ initiative for preparing health professionals to deliver the intervention, as well as service user and carer input into outcome measures, were exciting to see.
Members of the panel were impressed that participants with ‘lived experience’ of mental health problems were listed as first authors on peer reviewed journal papers. Another member of the panel commented that the “exciting methods of user-led dissemination, including use of film, fitted in well with the studies aims.”
The Engager programme was developed to help prisoners with common mental health problems near to and after their release. The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Engager programme in helping men with common mental health problems as they approach being released from prison and in the community after release.
One panel member said: “The study demonstrated creative and thoughtful ideas on how to address patient and public involvement and engagement in a very challenging context.” The panel were mostly impressed with the way the study stayed true to its values, including how the peer researcher role was to challenge and not just affirm the academic researcher’s ideas.
Professor Kathryn Abel, NIHR CRN National Speciality Lead for Mental Health said:
“A top priority of CRN Mental Health is to promote and celebrate our innovative, state-of-the art approaches to research which involves service users and carers at its heart. We have a long history of sponsoring awards for excellence around the meaningful involvement of patients and public in studies.
“This year’s winners evidenced their excellence in using a ‘co-production’ as opposed to a ‘consultative’ approach throughout the research process. This means they have also clearly demonstrated how lived experience of mental illness benefits research by improving the methods for more successful study recruitment; translation into meaningful user-relevant research findings as well as positive experiences for those giving their time to take part in research.”
“This important award recognises the importance of patient and public involvement (PPI) and encourages methodological innovation in how NIHR funded research studies involve mental health service users and carers in the design and delivery of health and social care research.
“Strong applications were received from teams across the country, causing difficult decisions for the judging panel. Well done to the winners that included both public advisory roles and service user researcher positions in their programmes.”
Sophie Dix, Director of Research at MQ: Transforming Mental health Through Research said:
“We’re delighted to celebrate these first-class examples of service user and carer involvement in research. I hope their innovative approaches will inspire researchers across the UK.
"Most encouragingly, the calibre of overall entries showed the strength and depth of high-quality user and carer involvement in the UK. This could not be more important in making sure that research delivers real improvements for everyone affected.”
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