Effective support for those who are ‘‘hard to engage’’: a qualitative user-led study

Rosemary Laura Davies, Pauline Heslop, Steve Onyett, Tony Soteriou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


    Background: Up to 30% of people with mental health problems drop out of contact with mental health services with negative implications for continuity of care. Services with an assertive outreach approach aim to sustain engagement.
    Aims: This study explored the perceptions and needs of people often described as ‘‘hard to engage’’ in order to understand more about how services can best support them.
    Methods: This was a service user led qualitative study involving participants with serious mental health problems. Interviews were held with 33 people using assertive outreach or voluntary sector services and 15 people who had disengaged from services. Data were analysed for emergent themes.
    Results: Relationships with staff were central to maintaining engagement with services. Almost all participants wanted help for their problems, and preferred services that responded to their priorities and offered practical support with everyday living. Negative perceptions of inpatient care were common, and a focus on medication put many participants off mental health services. Many participants were not receiving support for the full range of their complex needs.
    Conclusions: Difficulties in sustaining engagement with mental health services does not necessarily mean that people do not want help. Participants were intolerant of service determined priorities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberDOI: 10.3109/09638237.2013.841868
    JournalJournal of Mental Health
    Volumeearly online
    Early online date12 Dec 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Structured keywords

    • PolicyBristolHealthAndWellbeing


    • assertive outreach
    • patient engagement
    • therapeutic relationship

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effective support for those who are ‘‘hard to engage’’: a qualitative user-led study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this