Evidence Library


Title: Equal lives? Disabled people evaluate and independent living strategy for Essex Social Services.
Author: Johns, T., Miller, P., Kopp, K., Carter, Z., Cooper, G., Johnston, J., Nicholas, Z. & Wright, N.
Date Published: 2004
Reference: Research Policy and Planning, 22(2), 51-57.
Are service users or carers authors: Yes


Aim: To evaluate the impact of the Equal Lives strategy in facilitating disabled service users to lead more independent lives and to identify signs of improvement in services and opportunities to improve services further.

Methods: A telephone survey of 250 disabled service users and qualitative interviews. Disabled service users were recruited, trained and paid as co-research consultants.

Findings/recommendations: The paper discusses the impact of including service users as equal partners in the research. The service user researchers also report on their experiences of being involved. These include:

Positive impact on the research

  • enhanced validity of research evidence - because research participants felt more comfortable being interviewed by their peers and were more willing to share their experiences
  • added dimension to the analysis and interpretation of the data - based on service users' experiences
  • disseminating the findings - hearing directly from service users improves the validity and weight of the findings.

Negative impact on the research

  • there were also occasions where research participants appeared to over-identify with their interviewers and 'expected' them to understand their situation. The interviewers had been trained to recognise and respond to this.

Benefits for the service user researchers

  • new social contacts
  • work and training leading to new employment opportunities
  • feeling of making a positive and valued contribution to improving services
  • increased confidence
  • broadened outlook and experience.

The research team as a whole also benefited from the wealth of interpersonal and other skills that the service user researchers brought to the project.

Related entry: none currently available

Categories: social care
Undertaking research
Analysing and interpreting
Writing up and disseminating
impact on research
impact on service users involved
impact of public involvement
journal article

Date Entered: 2007/02/27

Date Edited: 2012/11/20

Additional Info: