Partners2 research programme

1. What is this research?

The PARTNERS2 research programme aims to develop better ways of supporting people with severe mental illness (schizophrenia or bipolar) within

GP practices. The project is funded by the NIHR Applied Health programme and PARTNERS2 study was originally developed by the late Professor Helen Lester, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Birmingham. It started march 2014 and will last 5 years. The research programme involves the universities of Warwick, Birmingham, Lancaster, LSE, Exeter, Swansea, Manchester and Plymouth.

2. Why is this research important?

Many people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder only use GP services for their mental health support. In future this will also probably increase as secondary services are streamlined. Some GPs are very good at supporting people with mental illnesses, but others are less so. Some people using GP-led mental health care don’t get good support, or make much progress with either their mental or physical health problems. A new system of collaborative care could offer services to enable people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia to lead longer, healthier and more satisfying lives.

3. What are we doing?

We are exploring what a new system of support within primary care would need to include and how much difference it could make to people who use mental health services. The study has several work programmes:

  • We are looking at who currently uses mental health services, and their experiences, delivered by both primary care and community mental health services in order to learn what we might need to change in a new system of collaborative care. We are also carrying out a systematic review of collaborative care for people with severe mental illness.
  • We are working with several stakeholder groups to identify a core outcomes set for schizophrenia and bipolar for use in mental health research studies based within community settings. This involves focus groups, a Delphi process and a patient preference study.
  • We are developing a new system of care based upon reviewing recovery literature, interviews with policy leads and stakeholder workshops.
  • Once we have the new system of care in pilot format we will deliver it in three areas of the country within primary care and track how it works seeking feedback from people using the service and practitioners. We will change the system based upon feedback over a 12 month period.
  • Following the pilot of the new system of care we will carry out a randomised control trial in three locations to test how effective it is for delivering better outcomes for people with schizophrenia or bipolar.

At the McPin Foundation we are developing and delivering a public and patient involvement (PPI) programme for the study – collaborating with academic teams to work alongside people with lived experience to produce quality mental health research. We have produced a poster outlining our approach: Our PPI plan.  For more information email or visit the project website.

4. What is the current status of the project?

The study is within its second year out of five.

The Partners2 team are working hard to implement the development phase of the study. This phase of the study will look at whether the Partners2 service (developed by service users, carers, clinicians and academics) is feasible and effective, prior to the service being offered to people in a Randomised Control Trial scheduled for early 2017. We are currently recruiting participants who will receive the PARTNERS2 service in Devon and Lancashire. Our Birmingham site will start recruiting shortly.

The three Partners2 Lived Experience Advisory Panels continue to meet on a monthly basis to support the development of the PARTNERS2 service and make decisions about the design of the trial.


5. Who do I contact for more information

If you would like more information about the study, please do get in touch:

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