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Home > Service user involvement in drug treatment programmes: Barriers to implementation and potential benefits for client recovery.

Van Hout, Marie Claire and McElrath, Karen (2012) Service user involvement in drug treatment programmes: Barriers to implementation and potential benefits for client recovery. Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy , 19 , (6) , pp. 474-483.

Service user forums have the potential for improving awareness of services, empowering service users and strengthening community partnerships within an inclusive treatment and rehabilitation framework. The research aimed to investigate perspectives about service user involvement in order to inform the development of effective service user forum(s) in west Ireland.

A total of 30 interviews with key service providers and 12 interviews with service users were conducted, with interview questions focusing on: (1) awareness of the Service User Support Team and (2) barriers to service user involvement and the development of service user forums in the region. An integrated data collection and thematic analysis was undertaken. Current levels of service user involvement were low, restricted by one-way communication and appeared grounded in user-provider power differentials and stigma relating to drug dependency. Service providers queried the actual terms of reference, capacity and training that would be needed for service user forums to advocate and lobby for service users. The use of existing support groups, creation of internet user forums and rotation of rural meetings were recommended to promote engagement among service users. The research underscores the need for transparency, resources and a framework for good practice that reflects a participatory approach.


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