Involving ethnically diverse service users in the research process: alliances and action

Newbigging, Karen, Roy, Alastair Neil orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4807-7352, Habte-Mariam, Zemikael, Mckeown, Mick orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0235-1923 and French, Beverley (2012) Involving ethnically diverse service users in the research process: alliances and action. In: Social Care, Service Users and User Involvement. Research Highlights in Social Work . Jessica Kingsley Publishers (JKP), Philadelphia, USA, pp. 120-141. ISBN 978-1-84905-075-3

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Involving service users in research is widely promoted as good practice (Frankham 2009). Relatively little, however, has been written about involvement of black and minority ethnic (BME) mental health service users in the research process or the involvement of service users in the technical intricacies of projects such as systematic reviews. What commentary there is suggests that the relationships between scholars and black and minority ethnic lay researchers, universities and communities, can present a difficult terrain for forging authentic and productive research alliances. This chapter discusses some of the practical and conceptual challenges arising from aspirations to be more inclusive of minority ethnic individuals in the research process. We then go on to describe one particular project of our own as an example of building alliances in the research enterprise. This specific study involved efforts to include African and Caribbean men as members of a research team conducting a commissioned knowledge review of mental health advocacy serving their communities (Newbigging et al 2007). The notion of a knowledge review, combining a formal systematic literature review and primary field-work in the practice domain, illustrates some choices for lay researchers in terms of preferred forms of involvement, and some particular challenges which relate to the scholarly practicalities and demands of undertaking systematic reviews.

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