Professor Diana Rose
Professor of User-Led Research
Co-Director Service User Research Enterprise
Health Services Research
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
I have had two academic careers in my time. The first was a lectureship in social sciences but that ended with medical retirement as I have a mental health condition. I spent several years without work but during that time became involved in the service user movement and did some administrative jobs. I never expected to have a second academic career. But I was fortunate to be around just when research funders were becoming interested in patient involvement in research. So I brought my two identities together, became a service user researcher and have not looked back. I consider myself very lucky.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
My general research interests are in putting the service user voice into research that is done in the field of mental health. I am particularly interested in the ‘hard’ end and have felt fulfilled doing projects on detention, compulsion and inpatient care. I still consider myself a social scientist and have an enduring interest in epistemological issues and the philosophy of science which I am now applying to the field of patient and public involvement in research. I have also recently completed a project on how and whether service user-led organisations shape service delivery and organisation in mental health. These interests all originally arose from my activities in the service user movement
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
I am now co-director of the Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) here at King’s. When I did my first piece of user-led research in 1988 I could never have dreamed it possible that there would be a team of people, based in a university, doing work from the service user perspectives who are themselves both qualified researchers and mental health service users. It has not been plain sailing all the time but nothing worthwhile ever is. I am also pleased to have supervised the first service user doctoral students at a Russell Group university.
What if any support has most benefited you in your career?
Many individuals and groups have supported me. I have had great support from members of SURE and my co-director. It is also important to me to keep connected with friends and colleagues doing user-led research outside the university sector and indeed with friends who have nothing to do with academia but have their own expertise about mental health issues, treatments and services
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
This is difficult to answer. I find it rewarding when the work we do has tangible impact. Probably this has mostly been through influencing government bodies such as NICE. We did this with our review of consumers’ perspectives on ECT and recently I co-chaired the NICE Guideline and Quality Standard on the Service User Experience in Adult Mental Health Services. I also enjoy travelling internationally to speak about user-led research in the UK because we are ahead of most other countries in this respect.
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
I don’t!! My partner is also a Professor at King’s and sometimes it seems that King’s has taken over our lives. At least he has Spurs. We also have a house in France where we go when we can but, sad as it may seem, we take our laptops with us and we have a primitive internet connection. I play the guitar badly and read a lot of Nordic Noir detective fiction to take my mind off work
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
That anything can happen. If I had been medically retired forty years ago rather than twenty years ago none of this would have come about. It would have been inconceivable that someone with a diagnosis of serious mental illness could turn that into an advantage. It’s a historical accident and probably a geographical one as well. It certainly is not for everyone – I’m not a cheer leader – but with proper support it is possible