An evaluation of a 'user-led' training course for mental health nurses and the effect of user involvement upon professional power, autonomy and practice
This study explores how 'user led' workshops for mental health workers were evaluated and subsequent effects upon professional power, practice and partnership working. Research methods involved observation of workshops, semi-structured interviews with course participants and analysis of evaluation forms. A content analysis of the evaluations, interviews and observation notes were interpreted in relation to literature on user involvement, professional power, practice and partnership working, although sub themes emerged during the process including safety and accountability, Care Programme Approach, resources in practice and resistance to change.;The findings reveal that the reaction of nurses to user involvement has been mixed and two groups have emerged. One group are more accepting of user involvement, the user perspective and seek more equality and partnerships with users. They espouse the rhetoric and implement the policy on user involvement and the study reveals a number of changes to their professional practice as a result of the workshop. However even in this group user involvement and partnership may be negated by the need to defer to others or legal and professional imperatives.;In contrast there is a second group who, may also espouse the rhetoric of user involvement and partnership working but nevertheless feel threatened by it. These nurses have been resistant to policy developments, are tokenistic in their acceptance of the user perspective and reluctant to change practice. They do not regard users as equal partners or engage in partnership working. This research has demonstrated therefore that user involvement in education and training can have a beneficial effect upon the working practices of some professionals but there remains a group for whom education alone is less effective.