Jonathan Perry


This study makes an original contribution to the evidence base for service user involvement in the teaching of interpersonal skills. The study is a synthesis of three different types of research activity. Firstly a systematic review which reviews the evidence base for service user involvement in interpersonal skills teaching. This review used inclusion criteria that restricted its scope to research that included elements that used outcomes, either qualitative or quantitative related to mental health service users involvement in teaching interpersonal skills. Four quantitative and eight qualitative studies met the criteria for inclusion. All the quantitative studies were methodologically weak. Qualitative studies lacked clear statements of qualitative methods used. Overall the studies reviewed provided some evidence of the efficacy of service user involvement. Qualitative findings included some negative effects of involvement. The second research approach used was reliability and validity testing of the Observed Assessment of Interpersonal Skills Scale (OAISS) using Factor Analysis and Cronbach’s Alpha. The OAISS is an observational instrument intended to measure an observer’s impression of another’s interpersonal skills during simulated interviews. Two factors were retained that accounted for 34% of the variance within the scale. Internal consistency of the scale was good. Two factors were interpreted to produce subscales called feedback and collaborative reflection and listening. The final study used mixed methods including a quasi-experiment and interview based qualitative data gathering. The quasi-experimental part of the study examined the effects on the student nurses (n = 75) interpersonal skills of a teaching intervention run by mental health service users. The experiment used a pre-test post-test design with a teaching as normal control group compared with the service user-teaching group. No significant difference was found between the two groups on measures of interpersonal skills. Qualitative results indicated that students had been affected by the service user teaching. Evidence was found of changes in empathic responses, attitudes and deep reflection on practice. Some polarization of views was also found particularly regarding the shocking nature of some of the personal accounts used in service user teaching and student concerns related to the representativeness of service users involved in teaching.

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