Service Users as Paid Research Workers: Principles for Active Involvement and Good Practice Guidance

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type

Book Chapter

Medical Subject Headings

Research; Community-Based Participatory Research; Mental Health Services; Community Mental Health Services


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology


Service users working in academic and other institutional settings can be a major asset to both the team and the research itself, with the potential to improve research relevance quality, and dissemination. However, without proper preparation and planning, there is great potential for the project to be derailed by tension existing between and among academics and service users. Hence, in order for this kind of service user involvement to achieve its full potential, some basic principles should be taken into account.

This chapter starts out with a discussion of the benefits that active involvement of service user research employees can bring to different aspects of a research project, as well as to others involved, including academic researchers and the service users. Common problems and challenges to such active involvement are also considered from the perspective of both. Subsequently, drawing on the literature as well as on personal experience, a number of key principles are recommended, essential for both senior researchers and service users to overcome the barriers to success and attain maximum benefit. The chapter concludes with a concise and practical step by step guide for senior researchers to achieve the active involvement of service user research workers.


Citation: J. Delman and A. Lincoln (2009) Service Users as Paid Research Workers: Principles for Active Involvement and Good Practice Guidance in Handbook of Service User Involvement in Mental Health Research (J. Wallcraft, M. Amering, B. Schrank John Wiley and Sons), Indianapolis, IN, p. 139-151.

At the time of publication, Jonathan Delman was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.