Purpose The purpose of this article is to enhance understanding of the increasing importance of service user and carer involvement in social work research. The paper outlines actions taken to develop knowledge and skills at post-qualifying level.
Method In 2016 three postgraduate modules on research methods and evidence-into-practice for service users and carers were created and taught jointly with existing parallel post-qualifying modules for experienced social workers. Over a three-year period 2016–2019 modular assessments; pre and post-testing of knowledge and self-efficacy; regular participant feedback sheets; and end-of-course reflections were undertaken.
Results Qualitative feedback indicated that the classroom experience was regarded positively. Valuable literature reviews and projects were produced which have the potential to contribute to transferring knowledge into practice. Though small in scale and using non-validated tools, increased mean scores were recorded on both Test of Knowledge (3.97; p <.001) and Self Efficacy (478.8 (p <.001) showing promise. Formal measures, exam results, and informal feedback demonstrate the success of the initiative as a means of enhancing a wider understanding of user participation in the research process.
Discussion Demonstrating how well-equipped service users and carers are to be more effective on research advisory panels and grant committees will take more time.
Conclusion Providing teaching on research methods for service users jointly with experienced social workers shows potential for developing coproduction of social care research and translating evidence into practice.
- Service user