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Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2007 Nov;28(11):1201-13.

Challenging conventional practice: placing consumers at the centre of the research enterprise.

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Sydney South West Area Mental Health Service (Eastern Zone), Rozelle, New South Wales, Australia.


Without evidence, clinicians may inadvertently be providing treatment that is not necessarily best for some consumers. If consumers, carers, and staff have different views about what type of services are best and which treatments are most effective, it is in all our interests to know more about these differences and find common ground. This article provides an overview of factors that require consideration and action for collaborative research to be successful. Actively involving consumers and carers in mental health research may improve the quality of research and has the potential to enhance clinical outcomes. However, a range of challenges must be overcome, which include insufficient training, extra time requirements, stress and non-representativeness, and the impact on research projects, consumers, and researchers. These factors apply equally to carers and, arguably, staff. With sufficient motivation, commitment, and funds for the requisite time, all of these disadvantages could be overcome or at least minimized.

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