York St John University
The Bridge
29 April 2009  
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Bridging the gap between research and practice

Welcome to the latest edition of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health’s e-bulletin, The Bridge.  

Partners’ event
The founding partners met recently at York St John University to look at how we are going to work together to achieve RCOMH’s mission. It was a very positive day in which representatives from each of the partner organisations were able to share their passion for research.

 As a group we reaffirmed our commitment as partners to:

  • world class research to ensure that the work we do is rigorous and credible internationally
  • research that focuses on occupation and mental health
  • translational research, rather than pure or ‘blue skies’ research, that will impact on practice

A lot of action points came out of the day but the key things were to:

  • market RCOMH to groups, other than occupational therapists, who have an interest in research on occupation and mental health
  • start making strategic links with other key organisations
  • develop an understanding of intellectual property issues for RCOMH
  • ensure that RCOMH delivers on its aims, particularly facilitating people who use services and their carers to actively participate in research programmes
  • provide a wide range of opportunities, such as PhD studentships or to be a data collector in a multi-centre study, for people using or working in mental settings to get involved in research studies

It was recognised that, whilst we have had some quick wins in the initial period of launching RCOMH, it is a long term project that will require us to stay focussed on our mission.

           Representatives from the founding partners’ organisations at the recent partners’ event

(The founding partners are the College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section in Mental Health; developing partners; Northumberland Tyne & Wear NHS Trust; South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS FoundationTrust; The Retreat and York St John University).

Spotlight on research
This month’s article focuses on an interesting study that was recently published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. It studied the impact of a pre-vocational program (a work skills training group based on Anthony’s model which was delivered by an occupational therapist) for people with schizophrenia. The programme was developed in response to the limitations of Individual Placement and Support (IPS), i.e. it has a maximum success rate of 47% of integrating individuals with schizophrenia into regular or adapted work and the suggestion that IPS only serves high functioning clients. The study was ambitious in that it was designed to demonstrate the impact of combining cognitive, cognitive-behavioural, skill training, and psychosocial approaches on work integration in schizophrenia. It was a non-experimental study using a pre-post study design with a non-equivalent control group. The researchers themselves identified many limitations of this study, e.g. small sample size, the lack of randomisation, practice effects. Unfortunately the number of flaws means the results of this study are too weak to support current practice. However, it can be used to shape future research studies; if you are thinking about studying this topic there are a lot of lessons you can learn from this when writing your proposal. If you would like to read this paper the full reference is:
Rouleau S, Saint-Jean M, Stip E, Fortier P (2009) The Impact of a Pre-Vocational Program on Cognition, Symptoms, and Work Re-Integration in Schizophrenia Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 25:26–43 DOI: 10.1080/01642120802644904
Research clinic dates – reminder
The research clinics are an opportunity for you to book a one-to-one appointment or an appointment for a group of you to meet with a researcher to discuss research (or research related) issues in the mental health field. We held our first research clinic for 2009 on the 18th March 2009 and people came to the clinic who wanted to know how to go about doing a PhD, applying for a particular grant application and building links between academia and their practice setting.

The remaining dates for this year are:

9th June 2009
7th Sept 2009
8th December 2009

If you would like to book an appointment please contact: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk

Prisca Cocker, who has attended the research clinic in the past, shares her experience…

I was surprised to find myself volunteering to be a part of research to start with, let alone doing a written work.  It all started with my occupational therapy manager showing me an advert for the research clinic in York St John University.  To my surprise there was a twinge in the pit of my stomach, in a jar half full kind of way I took the plunge.

I organised myself a trip up to York, my immediate thoughts where “what have I let myself in for” the mixture of excitement and anticipation I really had no idea what to expect or what I wanted to come from the meeting with Katrina.  The only thing I did take to the meeting was me knowing that I did want to try something different; I had always been interested in best practice so maybe this was something I could do.

Katrina was great, a calming influence amongst my fluster.  She asked me what I do now and what my experience had been about research.  This was a quick conversation particularly about the second part.  To my surprise the conversation then changed and became not so much about research but my career development, this took me by surprise as I had not anticipated it.  I had not seen being interested in research as key to how my occupational therapy career would or could develop.

We then moved on to research itself and again I was inspired by Katrina.  We made the decision that as this was a new experience, I would not do my own piece of research.  This was a relief, but then decided that I could still be a help and carry out a literature search supported by another clinician, Katrina then helped me to break this down further into sections. I now have contact with another member of RCOMH who is supporting and encouraging me to complete the literature review.  All I have to do now is get on with it!

Prisca Cocker
Lead occupational therapist for adult in-patients
Worcestershire mental health partnership trust

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