What does recovery mean in practice? A qualitative analysis of international recovery-oriented practice guidance

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Dec;62(12):1470-6. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.001312011.


Objectives: Recovery is a multifaceted concept, and the need for operationalization in practice has been identified. Although guidance on recovery-oriented practice exists, it is from disparate sources and is difficult to apply. The aims of the study were to identify the key characteristics of recovery-oriented practice guidance on the basis of current international perspectives and to develop an overarching conceptual framework to aid the translation of recovery guidance into practice.

Methods: A qualitative analysis of 30 international documents offering recovery-oriented practice guidance was conducted. Inductive, semantic-level, thematic analysis was used to identify dominant themes. Interpretive analysis was then undertaken to group the themes into practice domains.

Results: The guidance documents were diverse; from six countries-the United States, England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Denmark, and New Zealand-and varied in document type, categories of guidance, and level of service user involvement in guidance development. The emerging conceptual framework consists of 16 dominant themes, grouped into four practice domains: promoting citizenship, organizational commitment, supporting personally defined recovery, and working relationship.

Conclusions: A key challenge for mental health services is the lack of clarity about what constitutes recovery-oriented practice. The conceptual framework contributes to this knowledge gap and provides a synthesis of recovery-oriented practice guidance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Concept Formation
  • Documentation
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Mental Health Services / standards
  • New Zealand
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient Rights
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Improvement
  • Recovery of Function
  • Social Participation
  • United States