Tag: RiSC

Summer research catch-up

Some time away and pressure of work explain the absence of recent posts on this site. So here’s a catch-up. In COCAPP, data generation and analysis are pressing ahead, whilst COCAPP-A (which is asking questions about care planning in acute mental health hospitals) has officially commenced. Plan4Recovery (which is concerned with shared decision-making and social connections for people using mental health services) is generating data. The draft final report from the RiSC study has now been peer reviewed and is back with us, the research team, for revisions. Methods and findings from this project (an evidence synthesis in the area of risk for young people moving into, through and out of inpatient mental health hospital) were also presented last month at the CAMHS conference at the University of Northampton. Many thanks to Steven Pryjmachuk for doing this.

Further conference presentations, from all but COCAPP-A, will also be delivered at this year’s NPNR conference. And, for the first time, I’m off to an event organised by Horatio: European Psychiatric Nurses. Horatio is a member of ESNO: European Specialist Nurses Organisations, and the event I’m speaking at in November is the 3rd European Festival of Psychiatric Nursing. One of the papers I’m delivering is titled, ‘Mental health nursing, complexity and change’. Here’s my abstract:

In this presentation I principally draw on two studies conducted in the UK to share some cumulative insights into the interconnected worlds of mental health policy, services, work (including that of nurses) and the experiences of users. I first set the scene with a brief review of the historic system-wide shift away from hospitals in favour of care being increasingly provided to people in their own homes. I emphasise the importance of this development for the mental health professions, and show how community care opened up new jurisdictional opportunities for nurses, social workers and others. I then draw on data from a project using a comparative case study design and ethnographic methods to show how the everyday work of mental health nurses (and others) is shaped both by larger jurisdictional claims and the contextual peculiarities of the workplace. From this same project I also show how the detailed, prospective, study of unfolding service user trajectories can lay bare true divisions of labour, including the contributions made by people other than mental health professionals (including support staff without professional accreditation, community pharmacists and lay carers) and by users themselves. I then introduce the second study, an investigation into crisis resolution and home treatment (CRHT) services, with an opening account of the unprecedented policymaking interest shown in the mental health system from the end of the 1990s. CRHT services appeared in this context, alongside other new types of community team, and I draw on detailed ethnographic case study data to examine crisis work, the wider system impact of setting up new CRHT services and the experiences of users. I close the presentation overall with some reflections on the cumulative lessons learned from these linked studies, and with some speculative ideas (on which I invite discussion) on the continued reshaping of the mental health system at a time of economic constraint, health policy contestation and political devolution.

I’ve given myself something of a challenge in attempting all this in a single concurrent session, but I’ll do my best and can signpost interested participants to papers I have published in these areas. One of my reasons for heading off to the Horatio event (in Malta, as it happens) is to make connections with international colleagues, with whom I might usefully share my projects, interests and ideas and perhaps find common ground.

Mid-May catch-up post

RiSC front pageWork on the RiSC and COCAPP studies means that, of necessity, I’ve had to let this blog site (and pretty much everything else) take something of a back seat in recent weeks. The picture on the left is a screen shot of the RiSC study final report, which is now perilously close to completion. Once submitted to the funding body (the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme) it will be peer reviewed, and once accepted for the NIHR Journals Library progress through an editorial process before (hopefully sometime before the end of this year) appearing online.

Elsewhere, I see that the call for abstracts for this year’s NPNR conference remains open for a little while yet, as this tweet from Laura Benfield who works for the RCN Events team indicates:

I’m pleased to say that both the RiSC and COCAPP teams have already submitted abstracts. The conference will again be at Warwick University, and promises to a special affair. Here’s a snip from the event’s website:

This year is the 20th international NPNR conference and it’s going to be a celebration.

We wish to celebrate and promote some of the outstanding mental health nursing research that shapes mental health policy and nursing practice across the world. We will also acknowledge some of the best psychiatric and mental health nursing research that helped create the strong foundation for our work today. And we will invite delegates to look ahead to map out the future for mental health nursing research, education and practice.

Whilst my head has been somewhere else I see that the Department of Health has now published Positive and Proactive Care: reducing the need for restrictive interventions (something which members of Mental Health Nurse Academics contributed to) and that, yesterday, it was announced that NICE is about to step into the debate on nursing numbers. Here’s how The Guardian reported this:

Nurses in hospitals should not have to look after more than eight patients each at any one time, the body that sets NHS standards will urge next week in a move that will add to pressure to end what critics claim is dangerous understaffing.

Responding to concerns about standards of patient care in the aftermath of the Mid Staffs scandal, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will warn that registered nurses’ workloads should not exceed that number because patients’ safety could be put at risk.

The regulator’s intervention will intensify the pressure on hospitals, growing numbers of which are in financial difficulty, to hire more staff to tackle shortages even though many have little spare money. Campaigners on the subject believe at least 20,000 extra nurses are urgently needed at a cost of about £700m.

This looks to be a very important intervention indeed, with all sorts of potential implications. It will be interesting to see how policymakers respond. I also wonder how this debate will play out in the context of community health care, and whether we might expect some kind of consideration of caseload sizes. This is a fiendishly difficult area, and is far more complex than simply saying that (for example) ‘each community mental health nurse should have a caseload of no more than x‘.

I also see that Community Care has been continuing to highlight the extraordinary pressures facing people working in, and using, the mental health system. Austerity is very harmful, and Community Care is drawing necessary attention to the problems of lack of beds, funding cuts and retractions in community services.

Before I get my head back down into report-writing here’s a final plug, this time to a piece Michael Coffey has written over on the MHNAUK blog:

As we roll up to the end of April and summer is just around the corner the planning of our next meeting is starting to fall into some sort of shape. MHNAUK meetings usually take the form of morning presentations and afternoon group business items. After a meeting devoted to group strategy and plans in Cardiff in the Spring of 2013 we have attempted to get work done in our meetings and be much more strategic in terms of themes for presentations and outputs arising from these. This has meant that in the past year we have focused on dementia care and produced a position paper from this and in subsequent meetings we have discussed restrictive practices and physical health care in mental health which will result in further position papers.
For our coming meeting this June we are currently discussing ideas around the history of mental health nursing as one possible theme alongside plans to further our relationships with the mental health nurse consultants group. In addition we will revisit our plans for future themes so that we keep the focus firmly on supporting education and research in our field. Agendas are never truly fully complete and over the next few weeks new items will arise and suggestions will arrive that members feel we must discuss. This is as it should be and I welcome this as evidence of the vitality of the wider group, anyone fancy discussing yet another review of nurse education for instance?

Michael Coffey
Chair of MHNAUK

Synthesising evidence

evidenceToday, returning to this blog after something of a gap, I find reason to reflect on the many flavours of evidence review which now exist.

In the RiSC project we’ve been using the EPPI-Centre approach, developed by people working at the Institute of Education in London. This framework has a number of desirable features, including the combination of a phase 1 mapping with a more in-depth phase 2 involving quality appraisal. Deciding the focus of phase 2 in an EPPI-Centre review involves discussion with stakeholding collaborators. That’s all to the good, proving that in evidence syntheses, as in primary data-generating studies, it is possible for researchers to work jointly with service user, carer and practitioner colleagues.

Last week, with other members of the Wales chapter of the COCAPP team, I spoke on our meta-narrative mapping of care planning and care coordination at a Swansea University seminar. Amongst other things meta-narrative mapping traces the different research traditions found within a given field. And, today, I mock-examined a delightful doctoral thesis containing a scoping review, which lays out what’s there but does not include formal quality appraisal. Then there are realist syntheses, where reviewers look across multiple studies for evidence of the generative mechanisms underpinning change in policy, services or practice. The list goes on, encompassing thematic literature reviews and, of course, Cochrane-style systematic reviews. This latter approach has been very important in driving the evidence-based practice movement, but personally I’ve always been a little disappointed at its insistence on hierarchies with randomised trials as the gold standard.

So how might decisions be made on selecting one approach over another? Practical considerations have a bearing, but perhaps more important are commitments to certain intellectual or other principles. We chose the EPPI-Centre approach in RiSC because we valued user, carer, practitioner and manager perspectives and wanted a way of hearing these and using them to inform our project. Realist reviewers sign up to particular sets of ideas on how programmes work, and meta-narrative mappers embrace the idea, and seek out examples, of paradigmatic differerence. Perhaps the key thing is to be aware of, and articulate, these in justifying the choices which inevitably have to be made.

End of week catch-up

This week I learnt a whole lot more about framework analysis, having made the trip to City University London to join others in the COCAPP team for a NatCen training event. This was also my first introduction to the use of NVivo (a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software package), my experience having previously been with Atlas.ti.

Elsewhere the RiSC project team convened, via teleconference, for an important decision-making meeting. We’re entering the closing stages of this study, and it’s interesting stuff: about which I’ll be able to say more in time.

And, as planned, this was also the week I made the short hop to Cardiff Met (at the invitation of Lynette Summers in the University’s Library and Information Services) to meet with folk there to talk about my experiences in using this blog, and other things, to bring my research and writing to a wider audience. That was fun, and I hope useful, too.

Along with some classroom teaching, marking, a committee meeting and reading a nearly-there doctoral thesis that just about sums up my recent workplace activities. Varied, as always. Looking ahead, I realise that (unusually) I’ll be missing the next meeting of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK due to take place at Lincoln University on February 18th. Other commitments have won out on this occasion.

Returning to the REF

Photo by Antony Theobald (ant.photos) Creative Commons 2.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) licence

This is the month that universities in the UK make their submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. The REF is a big deal, as I’ve written about before. It is also continuing to attract plenty of commentary, much of it critical. For some time Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at Oxford University, has been using her personal blog to critique exercises in research rating. Her objections include their poor cost-effectiveness and the dangers of using journal impact factors as a proxy for the quality of individual papers. In his blog Peter Coles, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at Sussex University, has attacked the REF for becoming self-serving. Quoting from a Times Higher Education (THE) story he also writes of the practice in some universities of research-active academics not selected for REF return being shifted onto teaching-only contracts. This week, Professor Peter Scott from the Institute of Education writes in The Guardian that research assessment is now ‘out of control’ whilst the THE has recently reported on the case of Lancaster University historian Professor Derek Sayer who has appealed against the decision to include him in the REF on the grounds that the procedures used to exclude some of his colleagues have been discriminatory.

And so it goes on. In the REF proper, outputs (typically articles in journals) will be graded by experts as ‘world leading’ (4*), ‘internationally excellent’ (3*), ‘internationally recognised’ (2*), ‘nationally recognised’ (1*) or as either ‘sub-national’ or ‘not research’. These gradings will be made using the criteria of originality, significance and rigour. Universities get to select which of their staff will be included in their returns, drawing on their preparatory assessments of the quality of eligible outputs and underpinned by strategic ambitions of where they want to be in the HE firmament once the official REF results are published and institutions ranked. My guess is that, for most researchers and their employers, the most important distinction needing to be made will have been between outputs which are internationally excellent (3*) and outputs which are ‘only’ internationally recognised (2*). For reasons of reputation and likely future funding an article assessed as being at least the former is much more likely to be included in a REF submission than one which is not.

Quality assessments informing imminent REF returns will have been made by busy people with varying degrees of expertise in the (sub)areas in which the papers they have been reading lie. I’m going to speculate that there will be many hundreds (thousands?) of academics with outputs which will have attracted inconsistent scores from internal and external reviewers. Who knows, perhaps there are even some with individual outputs assessed by different people as simultaneously being ‘world leading’ and ‘unclassified’. Many will certainly have papers differentially judged as being 2* or 3*, leaving all sorts of tricky decisions to be made on submission or non-submission with all manner of possible consequences for both individuals and universities.

Back in the world of actually doing research, as opposed to the world of assessing research outputs and fretting over returns to assessment exercises, I am pleased to say COCAPP is now receiving questionnaires from service users and RISC is deep into phase 2. If you head over to this NISCHR page you’ll also find news of the Plan4Recovery project, led by Michael Coffey. This is a collaboration involving Hafal, and I’m very pleased to be a co-applicant along with Sherrill Evans and Alan Meudell. Plan4Recovery is advertising for a research officer, and is about to have its first advisory group meetings. Exciting times.

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.

Reflections on a pre-conference week

Funding for Welsh students and Welsh universities is in tonight’s news, I see, and I’m beginning to wonder how long the Welsh Government’s current policy in this area will survive. More immediately, it’s been a varied enough week for me personally: and that’s without my two days at the NPNR conference in Warwick which begin with a frighteningly early start tomorrow morning. But at least I’ll have Gerwyn Jones and Mohammad Marie in the car for company, so all will be well.

Highlights so far include a meeting of (most of) the excellent RiSC team (which includes the newly-professored Steven Pryjmachuk), to make further progress on our evidence review of ‘risk’ for young people moving into, through and out of inpatient mental health services. This is a two-phase project, and we’re now in the second segment. This is involving searches for research and other materials across a number of databases, and putting out calls for evidence to local services and other organisations.

Data has continued to be generated in COCAPP, and this week a date has been set for a first planning meeting for an exciting new project I am involved in led by Michael Coffey. More to follow on this in the fullness of time, I expect. And yesterday took me to a second meeting of the Mental Health Research Network Cymru Service User and Carer Partnership Research Development Group, an event convened at Hafal‘s premises located in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans: National History Museum. A good place, St Fagans: well worth a visit.

Elsewhere there have been comments to make on students’ draft assignments, research ethics committee work, undergraduate teaching to prepare (on roles in health and social care teams) and writing plans to be laid. I’ve also been reading a PhD ahead of a viva scheduled in the next few weeks. So this short post will do for tonight: time to knock off, iron some shirts, pack a bag and have an early night.

Vivas, research projects and the Welsh Government on the Francis Report

There’s plenty going on in the continuing baking sun this week. I was pleased to spend yesterday at Sheffield University (where I was once a student) examining, and recommending awarding, a doctorate addressing the use of problem based learning in mental health nursing education.

Meanwhile COCAPP is now generating data, and the RiSC project has reached a critical point as a search strategy is devised for its second phase. And tomorrow and on Friday I’ll be in the classroom with a group of professional doctorate students, talking and learning about systems and complexity.

Elsewhere, via the twitter account of the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford I’ve spotted the Welsh Government’s response to the Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. I see there will be an annual Quality Statement for the NHS in Wales from next year, and a future NHS Wales Quality Bill.

Summer sun

Just as predicted by those nice people at the Met Office, South Wales is warming up. The sun is high, and I hear the voices of schoolchildren playing football. I’ve been stuck inside all day, which in the circumstances has been something of a drag, but in the last hour or so I’ve gravitated outside to soak up some of this long-awaited summer.

This has been a working week as varied as any. I had a couple of School committees to chair (research ethics, and scientific review), some teaching (MSc), and a meeting with colleagues to plan some pre-registration interprofessional education in the autumn. This is a continuing mental health nursing/occupational therapy initiative (which I’ve posted about before), and on this occasion we’re planning some technological innovation involving the use of video recording and playback. On the research front I’ve been working on RiSC and keeping in touch with COCAPP, and found myself contributing to a rapidly convened meet-up to talk through a brand new project idea. I received page proofs for our new Critical junctures paper, peer reviewed a manuscript submitted for publication, and received a citation alert from Scopus. This was particularly pleasing as it took my ‘h’ index to 15, for what that’s worth. I also completed preparations for a doctoral examination taking place next Tuesday, and managed to squeeze in a pleasant catch-up with an esteemed colleague working in NHS mental health services. Mostly we exchanged news of developments in practice, services and research locally.

And with that, I’m off. Beer in the back garden calls.

Welcome meeting for the RiSC project

Yesterday brought a there-and-back trip to Southampton, with esteemed colleagues Nicola Evans and Deborah Edwards, for an NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research Programme welcome meeting for our RiSC project. This was an opportunity to meet with other funded researchers (and very interesting they were, too) and to learn more about how the HS&DR Programme works with investigators over the lifetime of projects and beyond. We also had the chance to present our study, and to field questions from the floor.

On its website the HS&DR Programme says that it:

aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS including research on implementation and a range of knowledge mobilisation initiatives. It will be keen to support ambitious evaluative research to improve health services.

And that it:

aims to support a range of types of research including evidence synthesis and primary research. This includes large scale studies of national importance. This means primary research projects which:

  • Address an issue of major strategic importance to the NHS, with the cost in line with the significance of the problem to be investigated
  • Are likely to lead to changes in practice that will have a significant impact on a large number of patients across the UK
  • Aim to fill a clear ‘evidence gap’, and are likely to generate new knowledge of direct relevance to the NHS
  • Have the potential for findings to be applied to other conditions or situations outside the immediate area of research
  • Bring together a team with strong expertise and track record across the full range of relevant disciplines
  • Will be carried out across more than one research site.

A search through the programme’s portfolio of projects turns up a raft of studies of national and international significance, including work (ongoing and completed) led by or involving nurses. Well worth a look, in my view…