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Celebrating research that champions service user involvement

We’re delighted to announce this year’s winners of the Service User and Carer Involvement Awards 2018, which we’ve supported with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and McPin.

Two mental health research projects in Birmingham and Manchester were chosen as joint winners of this year’s award. Both were recognised for their innovative approaches to championing service user and academic collaboration, as well as instilling meaningful involvement at the centre of their work.

The winners were:


In the PARTNERS2 project, Professor Max Birchwood and his team at Birmingham University explored a new collaborative care model to improve both physical and mental health of people with ongoing mental health needs. This was particularly focused on building links between primary and secondary provision of healthcare.

The project impressed judges with its “strong commitment to breaking down the boundaries between the servicer users and academic staff working on the study”. They cited in particular the Lived Experience Advisory Panels at each of the research sites, which had a clear influence on shaping the research process. Service user researchers were involved in collecting data and worked alongside research assistants during the research process.


At the University of Manchester, Professor Karina Lovell and her team ran a study assessing whether increased service user and carer involvement can lead to a positive outcome for both healthcare systems and their users.

The EQUIP project involved developing and trialling a training intervention for mental health professionals, co-designed and co-delivered with service users and carers. This ‘train the trainer’ initiative was highlighted as an exciting way of preparing professionals as well as well as getting service user and carer input into outcome measures. 

One panel member commented that “The study demonstrated excellent examples of peer researcher support as well as innovative methods of dissemination.” Participants with‘lived experience’ of mental health problems were listed as first authors on peer reviewed journal papers.

A third project called Engager2 was highly commended by the judges. Led by Richard Byng at Plymouth University the programme helps prisoners with common mental health problems near to and after their release. It was particularly praised for its “creative and thoughtful ideas on how to address patient and public involvement and engagement in a very challenging context.”

Commenting on the Awards, MQ’s Director of Research Sophie Dix said: “We’re delighted to celebrate these first-class examples of service user and carer involvement in research. I hope their innovative approaches will inspire researchers across the UK. 

Most encouragingly, the calibre of overall entries showed the strength and depth of high-quality user and carer involvement in the UK. This could not be more important in making sure that research delivers real improvements for everyone affected.” 

Last updated: 22 May 2018

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