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Book review - Handbook of service users' involvement

Katrina BanniganHandbook of service users’ involvement reviewed by Katrina Bannigan, The Director of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health

The Handbook of service users’ involvement is part of the World Psychiatric Association Evidence and experience in psychiatry series. There are a range of authors, whose backgrounds include researchers, being a user of services, service user researchers and clinicians. That the book is focused on mental health means it is of interest to the readership of The Bridge because it touches on the specific issues we face in our research practice. It is a detailed, edited text which I could not hope to do justice to in this short reflection. My perspective, as a researcher who works with service users, is that this is a useful resource to dip in and out of for advice about practical issues that arise when working with service users, e.g. payment. The book clearly explains what needs to be considered in paying service users. I found this advice was not readily available elsewhere when I needed.

I also found the book valuable for exploring issues that I have to navigate as a researcher. For example, in the chapter on Collaboration, Is collaborative research possible?, Diane Rose of SURE (which was mentioned earlier in this edition of The Bridge) explores the background to collaborative research but she also draws on her experience as a service user researcher. Her analysis seems both balanced and honest. She concludes “collaborative research is not easy to do and will take some more time to become established” (p178) and in doing so reassures me that others are learning as I am learning.

Overall I think the book should be kept on the shelf for reference purposes but only after making time to read some of the chapters, if not all, in more detail to apprise yourself of the issues that shape and affect service user involvement in mental health research.

If you would like to read this book, the full reference is
Wallcraft J, Schrank B, Amering M (2009) Handbook of service User Involvement in mental health research Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell ISBN 9780470997956