Service User and Carer Involvement Research Award

Mental health research experts from across the country came together at a national awards event to celebrate the very best examples of service user and carer involvement in mental health research studies and find out the winners of the NIHR CRN, McPin Foundation & MQ Service User and Carer Involvement Awards 2018.

The McPin Foundation has teamed up with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) and MQ: Transforming Mental Health, to present this year’s award. The awards ceremony, held on Tuesday 24 April, was attended by research teams, including service user researchers.


The awards aim to recognise the achievements of researchers who involve service users, carers and the public in each stage of the research process – from initial design and participation, to the evaluation of outcomes. The awards will also celebrate the dedication and diligence of the public who get involved in mental health studies and make a difference to the development of new care and treatments.

The awards were presented by Vanessa Pinfold, Co-founder and Research Director at McPin and Sophie Dix, Director of Research at MQ. This year, there were two joint winners:


EQUIP. Chief Investigator: Professor Karina Lovell

Professor Karina Lovell and her team at the University of Manchester ran a study assessing whether increased service user and carer involvement can lead to positive outcome for both healthcare systems and their users. If meaningful service user and carer involvement in care planning is to be achieved, there is a pressing need to agree and foster a system-wide, user-centred model of collaboration and involvement. The research programme aimed to address the gap between policy and practice through this programme of work – designing, evaluating, implementing and disseminating a training intervention for mental health professionals, co-designed and co-delivered with service users and carers.

One panel member commented that “The study demonstrated excellent examples of peer researcher support as well as innovative methods of dissemination.”

The panel felt that the service user-developed ‘train the trainer’ initiative for preparing health professionals to deliver the intervention, as well as service user and carer input into outcome measures, were exciting to see.

Members of the panel were impressed that participants with ‘lived experience’ of mental health problems were listed as first authors on peer reviewed journal papers. Another member of the panel commented that the “exciting methods of user-led dissemination, including use of film, fitted in well with the studies aims.”

  • Find out more about the study, here.















PARTNERS2. Chief Investigator: Professor Max Birchwood

Professor Max Birchwood and his team ran a study assessing the effectiveness of a collaborative care model in improving both physical and mental health of people with ongoing mental health needs. The physical health of people with long term mental health conditions is often poor – and by breaking down the barriers between primary and secondary provision of healthcare, the study aims to investigate the impacts of a collaborative care model in improving wellbeing and quality of life.

The panel members were impressed that the team held 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.

One panel member commented that: “The integration of service user researchers within the research team came across strongly.” Another member of the panel said they “were excited to see a strong commitment to breaking down the boundaries between the service users and academic staff working on the study”.

  • Find out more about the study, here.

High commended: Engager2 – Chief Investigator: Richard Byng

The Engager programme was developed to help prisoners with common mental health problems near to and after their release. The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Engager programme in helping men with common mental health problems as they approach being released from prison and in the community after release.

One panel member said: “The study demonstrated creative and thoughtful ideas on how to address patient and public involvement and engagement in a very challenging context.” The panel were mostly impressed with the way the study stayed true to its values, including how the peer researcher role was to challenge and not just affirm the academic researcher’s ideas.

  • Find out more about the study, here.


Dr Vanessa Pinfold, Co-Founder and Research Director at McPin Foundation said:

“This important award recognises the importance of patient and public involvement (PPI) and encourages methodological innovation in how NIHR funded research studies involve mental health service users and carers in the design and delivery of health and social care research.

“Strong applications were received from teams across the country, causing difficult decisions for the judging panel. Well done to the winners that included both public advisory roles and service user researcher positions in their programmes.”