Research Platform
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Living With Psychosis
Author Affiliations
  • Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
  • University of Essex, Colchester, England
Article Information
Mental Health / Health Services Research and Education
Research Platform   |   July 01, 2015
Living With Psychosis
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510035.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510035.

Date Presented 4/16/2015

This participatory action research aimed to find out what helps people in everyday life, from the perspective of those with experience of psychosis. The findings are presented along with the collaborative process that creatively overcame barriers between consumers and professionals.

SIGNIFICANCE: In this research, we generated insights into how people could be supported in their everyday lives, from the perspectives of those with experience of psychosis. This practical focus was initiated and developed by a collaborative group of consumers and occupational therapists from an Early Intervention in Psychosis community team and the local university. The occupational focus was evident in the research topic and in the way that the research was conducted, valuing occupation as a means to achieving the research aims and as a focus for the findings. This offered a fresh interpretation of occupational justice, recognizing how occupation promotes inclusion and involvement.
INNOVATION: Group members participated in ways that reflected their capacity and interest because of the occupational focus. A simple occupational analysis checklist was used to categorize different activities related to research. This was used to orientate everyone to the group’s focus and aims and to discuss individual roles. Meeting at the local university, the group was active from 2007 to 2013. It was unique to involve people over a significant period of time and to engage in research that has led to three publications. The collaborative approach required the group to repeatedly question their individual and shared assumptions from personal, professional, and theoretical perspectives. Considering how their experience both as consumers and professionals might be similar and different was a key part of the reflexive process. This particularly challenged and overcame professional–consumer barriers.
APPROACH: The research question was as follows: What is helpful in the daily lives of people experiencing the effects of psychosis? Guidance about everyday life with psychosis has not often been based on consumer perspectives, yet their expertise is essential for understanding what is helpful at different stages of the experience. Research has tended to focus on intervention efficacy. In this study, we aimed to bridge the gap between published clinical research and lay guides, emphasizing consumer perspectives. It was a participatory action research project, with group members using reflective techniques to develop qualitative research skills.
METHOD: Following ethical approval, a launch event was used to recruit consumers from a local community mental health facility for two focus groups involving 15 people, facilitated by the consumer researchers and an occupational therapy student. Constant comparative analysis generated findings that were shared in a short report for dissemination to a wide audience titled “Living With Psychosis.”
RESULTS: The findings indicate what it is like to experience psychosis, what to do, and the importance of talking to others and not avoiding problems. Ongoing skilled help was important for people to feel safe when unwell.
CONCLUSIONS: Conclusions suggest that priority should be given to understanding individual experiences to focus on practical problems in everyday life. These findings echo the recovery approach and client-centered practice. Even though these findings were based on a limited number of contributions, the consistent and deeply collaborative approach strengthens the authenticity of this research.