By Carolyn Chew-Graham, Professor of General Practice Research, Keele University
With Athula Sumathipala, Professor of Psychiatry (Keele University) and Eleanor Bradley, Professor of Psychology (University of Worcester), we led a symposium at the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress in Birmingham earlier this month.
Our title was ‘Beyond the RCT; the added value of qualitative research within health services research’ and we faced a large audience in the main auditorium in the International Conference Centre on a roasting hot day.
Athula spoke about the cognitive representation of medically unexplained symptoms, implication for treatment development research, his trials in Sri Lanka and our plans to continue this work in the UK, starting with our small scale study funded by SPCR.
Carolyn presented the results of the COINCIDE trial (a multi-centre RCT of a collaborative care intervention for people with depression and diabetes and/or heart disease. She described the value of the nested qualitative study in helping to explain the trial results.
Eleanor eloquently spoke about the value of qualitative work in understanding the perspectives of carers, supporting family members with mental health problems.
Some of the questions were challenging [‘just because a patient says that’s what they want, is that right?’..….’how does collaborative care fit within Simon Stevens’ five year plan?’…….’how do you get qualitative work published?].
We feel the symposium went extremely well, there was lively discussion after the session had finished, and contacts made with colleagues in Warwick and Birmingham. We were really pleased that John Cox, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry from Keele, contributed to the discussion, and expressed his support to the development of mental health research and academic psychiatry at Keele.