Aim To describe the research model developed and successfully deployed as part of a multi-method qualitative study investigating suicidal service-users’ experiences of mental health nursing care.
Background Quality mental health care is essential to limiting the occurrence and burden of suicide, however there is a lack of relevant research informing practice in this context. Research utilising first-person accounts of suicidality is of particular importance to expanding the existing evidence base. However, conducting ethical research to support this imperative is challenging.
Discussion The model discussed here illustrates specific and more generally applicable principles for qualitative research regarding sensitive topics and involving potentially vulnerable service-users.
Conclusion Researching into mental health service users with first-person experience of suicidality requires stakeholder and institutional support, researcher competency, and participant recruitment, consent, confidentiality, support and protection.
Implications Research with service users into their experiences of sensitive issues such as suicidality can result in rich and valuable data, and may also provide positive experiences of collaboration and inclusivity. If challenges are not met, objectification and marginalisation of service-users may be reinforced, and limitations in the evidence base and service provision may be perpetuated.
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