User and carer involvement in the training and education of health professionals: a review of the literature

Int J Nurs Stud. 2007 Mar;44(3):511-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2006.05.013. Epub 2006 Jul 13.


Background: Health policy requires consumer involvement in services, research and education but little is known about how consumers are being involved in healthcare education, the effect on learning and practice, nor how involvement initiatives are being evaluated.

Objectives: To describe methods of involving consumers in healthcare education, discuss ways in which initiatives have been evaluated, and identify areas for development in education, practice and research.

Design: All papers reporting specific initiatives involving consumers in health care worker training and education were included. Viewpoint articles and studies of consumers training consumers were excluded.

Data sources: Cinahl, Medline, Assia, PsycINFO, British Nursing Index, Social Science Citation Index, citations from reference lists, relevant websites and personal communication with key people known to be working in this area.

Review methods: A narrative approach was taken with categorisation of data to reflect objectives of selected studies; method of involvement; process issues and evaluation.

Results: Thirty-eight papers were included; most provide small-scale qualitative studies of mental health service users and focus on process rather than outcome. Various methods of involvement are described and consumers consistently prioritise the need for training in interpersonal skills over 'technical' skills. There is little research into organisational strategies and no studies investigate the effect of consumer involvement on practice. Two studies indicated that students exposed to consumer involvement demonstrate more empathic understanding and better communication skills.

Conclusions: There is tentative evidence that consumer involvement in training enhances workers' skills in the manner prioritised by consumers. However, if consumer involvement in training and education is to facilitate services that reflect the priorities of the people using them, it must be developed in partnership with service providers; further research is needed to explore the impact of consumer involvement and to track the development of organisational consumer involvement strategies, also systems for supporting consumers need to be established, including training for both consumers and staff.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Community Participation / methods*
  • Community Participation / psychology
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel* / education
  • Health Personnel* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Research Design
  • Teaching Materials / standards
  • United Kingdom