Engaging patients meaningfully in self-harm research: user involvement and appropriate outcomes

WestMental Health
Start Date: 1 Jan 2015


Every year, more than 200,000 people visit UK hospitals following self-harm. People who self-harm are at a much greater risk of suicide and it is important that researchers develop effective interventions to improve mental health and reduce suicide risk in this group. However the numbers of people who take part in self-harm research is low, suggesting that strategies to engage service users and the outcomes measured in research are not relevant or appropriate.

First, we will involve groups of people who have self-harmed to discuss with them the best ways to ask people to participate in research about self-harm, and seek their views on the reasons why people do or don’t take part. We will also explore with them how best to talk to people about their self-harm to find out what is important to them.

Once we have developed novel ways of approaching and recruiting people, we will use these strategies to invite up to 20 service users to take part in interviews. These will explore what people want from a treatment, what outcomes are important to them, and their views about the outcomes that are currently measured in trials.

Project aims

Through this research we aim to understand how best to engage service users in research in a more representative way and to identify outcomes for people who self-harm that are of greatest relevance to them.

Anticipated impacts

Our findings will inform the development of a set of user-defined outcomes for future self-harm research.

Dr Kyla Thomas