Evidence Library

Title: Co-research with older people: Perspectives on impact
Author: Littlechild, R., Tanner, D. & Hall, K.
Date Published: 2015
Reference: Qualitative Social Work, 14(1), 18-35
Are service users or carers authors: No/Not Known

Abstract: This article reports on an evaluation of the involvement of older people with dementia and older people from a black and ethnic minority group as co-researchers in a study of service users’ experiences of moving between different types of care. The study involved interviewing older service users and carers and reporting the findings to practitioners. The co-researchers were involved at all stages, from design through to dissemination. The evaluation was undertaken by an academic who was not involved in the project. This involved interviewing all stakeholders in the research. The co-researchers made a difference to the nature and quality of the interviews. They made the interview more comfortable for the interviewees, which encouraged people to share their experiences. However, this created some tension in that the interviews sometimes strayed ‘off-topic’ from the researchers’ perspective. The co-researchers and interviewees tended to focus on the relationships between service users and service providers, whereas the researchers might have focused their questions about the organisation and how well they managed admission to or discharge from their service. The researchers recognised this as a difference in perspective, rather than any approach being ‘better’ or ‘worse’. All stakeholders agreed that the co-researchers’ involvement was particularly helpful at the stage of feeding back the findings to service providers and managers. At meetings, the co-researchers read out quotes from the data, which proved very powerful, and forced the providers and managers to acknowledge and address the issues raised. Here the partnership with the researchers proved valuable in enabling the co-researchers to access the key people to influence. The researchers reflect on recent criticisms of involvement in research and concerns that it might only reinforce existing power imbalances. They conclude that a partnership approach in itself is not a problem, but the quality of the process is crucial. The research needs to be genuinely participatory in practice and researchers need to be willing to be open, flexible, sensitive and responsive to the service user input. They suggest that some involvement is better than none and conclude that it is important that the evaluation of involvement includes all parties, to find shared solutions to any problems.

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Categories: health
public health
Designing research
Undertaking research
Analysing and interpreting
Writing up and disseminating
impact on research
impact on research ethics
impact on implementation and change
impact of public involvement
journal article
Implementation and change

Date Entered: 2015/04/28

Date Edited: 2015/04/28

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