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Improving service user experience

Posted on 12/04/2012
Service user experience

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued its first ever official guidance focusing on improving service users’ experiences of mental health services. Dr Diana Rose, Co-Director of the Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry co-chaired the guideline development group. 

The guidelines set out by NICE focus on promoting social inclusion, an end to the stigma associated with mental health and the importance involving service users in decision-making, assessments and the development of care plans which incorporate their needs and preferences.

Dr Diana Rose says: ‘The guidelines are specifically about the service user experience in adult mental health services and how to improve it. The idea was to get as strong a service user representation within the development group as possible and this was the first time NICE had a service user chair. The development group benefited from having equal numbers of service users and provider members. We hope the outcome is a true reflection on how we may improve the experience of mental health services from a service user perspective.’

‘There are not many randomised controlled trials in this area of research, so we relied mainly on qualitative data, papers on shared decision making and work on coercion which the SURE group at King’s was involved in.’

SURE is one of the largest units within a university in Europe to employ people who have both research skills and first-hand experience of mental health services and treatments. Service users are involved in a collaborative way in the whole research process: from design to data collection, through to data analysis and dissemination of results. The research led by SURE aims to tests the effectiveness of services and treatments from the perspective of people with mental health problems and their carers.

A summary of the guidelines was published in the March 2012 edition of the British Medical Journal. The BMJ summary is available online here

The NICE Guidelines are entitled ‘Service user experience in adult mental health: Improving the experience of care for people using adult NHS mental health services’ 

For more information, please contact Seil Collins (Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry) email: or tel: 0207 848 5377

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