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Mental health service users in researchCritical sociological perspectives$
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Patsy Staddon

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447307334

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447307334.001.0001

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Mental health service users' experiences and epistemological fallacy

Mental health service users' experiences and epistemological fallacy

(p.11) Two Mental health service users' experiences and epistemological fallacy
Mental health service users in research

Hugh Middleton

Policy Press

Mental health service users’ experiences of research commonly mirror their experiences of health care. There is often a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’, their perspectives frequently considered less important than those generating scientific findings. Involvement is formally endorsed and encouraged, but often experienced as tokenistic. The conduct of medical research in general, and mental health research in particular, may be framed by institutional settings, reflecting longstanding social arrangements to accommodate the social challenges of illness and disability: the ‘sick role’. This chapter rehearses the features, origins and applicability of the classic sick role, explores its use in relation to mental health difficulties and suggests that many service users’ experiences of research could be explained in this way. Medical research seeks to develop the same professional knowledge which provides healthcare practitioners with the authority they are accorded by the sick role contract. Research endeavour that does not pursue this aim cannot carry this authority. Respecting knowledge generated outside the professional sphere of influence challenges the validity of power relations enshrined in the sick role contract, and the validity of the sick role. This is problematic from a number of perspectives, including a significant proportion of the service user population.

Keywords:   scientific, sick role, power relations, validity

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