Exploring changing culture and building capacity in research with consumers, carers and consumer companions

Cox, Leonie, Rodgers, Tracey, & Goulter, Nicci (2014) Exploring changing culture and building capacity in research with consumers, carers and consumer companions. In Australian College of Mental Health Nurses 40th International Mental Health Nursing, 6-7 October 2014, Melbourne, Vic.

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Australian policy mandates consumer and carer participation in mental health services at all levels including research. Inspired by a UK model - Service Users Group Advising on Research [SUGAR] - we conducted a scoping project in 2013 with a view to create a consumer and carer led research process that moves beyond stigma and tokenism, that values the unique knowledge of lived experience and leads to people being treated better when accessing services. This poster presents the initial findings.


The project’s purpose was to explore with consumers, consumer companions and carers at the Metro North Mental Health-RBWH their interest in and views about research partnerships with academic and clinical colleagues.


This poster overviews the initial findings from three audio-recorded focus groups conducted with a total of 14 consumers, carers and consumer companions at the Brisbane site.


Our work was guided by framework analysis (Gale et al. 2013). It defines 5 steps for analysing narrative data: familiarising; development of categories; indexing; charting and interpretation. Eight main ideas were initially developed and were divided between the authors to further index. This process identified 37 related analytic ideas. The authors integrated these by combining, removing and redefining them by consensus though a mapping process. The final step is the return of the analysis to the participants for feedback and input into the interpretation of the focus group discussions.


  1. Value & Respect: Feeling Valued & Respected, Tokenism, Stigma, Governance, Valuing prior knowledge / background
  2. Pathways to Knowledge and Involvement in Research: ‘Where to begin’, Support, Unity & partnership, Communication, Co-ordination, Flexibility due to fluctuating capacity
  3. Personal Context: Barriers regarding Commitments & the nature of mental illness, Wellbeing needs, Prior experience of research, Motivators, Attributes
  4. What is research? Developing Knowledge, What to do research on, how and why?

Conclusion and Discussion

Initial analysis suggests that participants saw potential for ‘amazing things’ in mental health research such as reflecting their priorities and moving beyond stigma and tokenism. The main needs identified were education, mentoring, funding support and research processes that fitted consumers’ and carers’limitations and fluctuating capacities. They identified maintaining motivation and interest as an issue since research processes are often extended by ethics and funding applications. Participants felt that consumer and carer led research would value the unique knowledge that the lived experience of consumers and carers brings and lead to people being treated better when accessing services.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 92674
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/inm.12104
ISSN: 1445-8330
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Mental Health Nursing (111005)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: © 2014 The Authors
Deposited On: 05 Feb 2016 00:00
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2016 21:25

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