Tag: research

More observations from a small country

This new paper has been a long time in the making. Work on it began with preparations for an address given at the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses conference in 2018. Refinements and updates happened towards the end of 2019, in the context of preparing for a talk delivered at a Royal College of Nursing-sponsored event in Cardiff in 2019, with a further version presented at an online conference organised by Julia Terry, from Swansea University, during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown. Along the way the written article has benefited from a critical reading from both Michael Coffey and  Nicola Evans, and from no fewer than four anonymous peer reviewers. My thanks to all of them.

Observations from a small country: mental health policy, services and nursing in Wales can be downloaded in green open access form from the Cardiff University institutional repository, and has this as its abstract:

Wales is a small country, with an aging population, high levels of population health need and an economy with a significant reliance on public services. Its health system attracts little attention, with analyses tending to underplay the differences between the four countries of the United Kingdom (UK). This paper helps redress this via a case study of Welsh mental health policy, services and nursing practice. Distinctively, successive devolved governments in Wales have emphasised public planning and provision. Wales also has primary legislation addressing sustainability and future generations, safe nurse staffing, and rights of access to mental health services. However, in a context in which gaps always exist between national policy, local services and face-to-face care, evidence points to the existence of tension between Welsh policy aspirations and realities. Mental health nurses in Wales have produced a framework for action, which describes practice exemplars and looks forward to a secure future for the profession. With policy, however enlightened, lacking the singular potency to bring about intended change, nurses as the largest of the professional groups involved in mental health care have opportunities to make a difference in Wales through leadership, influence and collective action.

The argument I’ve developed here is that policy for health care in Wales, and for mental health care specifically, has distinctive features. As a peer reviewer I continue to have to correct manuscripts which conflate ‘England’ with the ‘UK’, and I’ve tried in this article to point out some of the things which make Wales different. I have also highlighted what seem, to me, to be gaps between well-intentioned policy aspirations and actual experiences as revealed through research. Overall, though, I intend the paper to convey a message of optimism, noting (amongst other things) the high value placed on the relational work of mental health nurses and the positive differences nurses make. Enjoy the read!

Evidence syntheses and the RiSC study

I’ve been working on a document associated with the RiSC study today. RiSC is an evidence synthesis of ‘risk’ for young people moving into, through and out of inpatient mental health services. To guide our review we’re using a framework developed by members of the the EPPI-Centre, about which more can be found by clicking on the logo below:EPPI Centre

Distinct about the EPPI-Centre approach is the emphasis placed on engaging with representatives of groups and communities with interests in the area under review. In their Methods for Conducting Systematic Reviews document the EPPI-Centre people write:

Approaches to reviewing
Involving representatives of all those who might have a vested interest in a particular systematic review helps to ensure that it is a relevant and useful piece of research.
User involvement
Everyone has a vested interest in public policy issues such as health, education, work and welfare. Consequently everyone, whether they wish to be actively engaged or not, has a vested interest in what research is undertaken in these fields and how research findings are shared and put to use.
Reviews are driven by the questions that they are seeking to answer. Different users may have different views about why a particular topic is important and interpret the issues within different ideological and theoretical perspectives.
Involving a range of users in a review is important as it enables reviewers to recognise and consider different users’ implicit viewpoints and thus to make a considered decision about the question that the review is attempting to answer. The aim is to be transparent about why a review has the focus that it does, rather than assuming it is, or is attempting to be, everything to everyone.

In our review (as you’ll see if you download our protocol from the link given at the top of this post above) we’re combining a broad descriptive mapping of the territory with a more selective, in-depth, review guided by the priorities of stakeholder representatives. These are people with experience of using, working in or managing child and adolescent mental health services.

I like this approach to conducting evidence reviews, appreciating the commitment it demands to the agreement of topic areas and to being open in decision-making. All going well I’ll be continuing with some RiSC work tomorrow.