Objective: This study used participatory methods and concept-mapping techniques to develop a greater understanding of the construct of citizenship and an instrument to assess the degree to which individuals, particularly those with psychiatric disorders, perceive themselves to be citizens in a multifaceted sense (that is, not in a simply legal sense).
Methods: Participants were persons with recent experience of receiving public mental health services, having criminal justice charges, having a serious general medical illness, or having more than one of these "life disruptions," along with persons who had not experienced any of these disruptions. Community-based participatory methods, including a co-researcher team of persons with experiences of mental illness and other life disruptions, were employed. Procedures included conducting focus groups with each life disruption (or no disruption) group to generate statements about the meaning of citizenship (N = 75 participants); reducing the generated statements to 100 items and holding concept-mapping sessions with participants from the five stakeholder groups (N = 66 participants) to categorize and rate each item in terms of importance and access; analyzing concept-mapping data to produce citizenship domains; and developing a pilot instrument of citizenship.
Results: Multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analysis revealed seven primary domains of citizenship: personal responsibilities, government and infrastructure, caring for self and others, civil rights, legal rights, choices, and world stewardship. Forty-six items were identified for inclusion in the citizenship measure.
Conclusions: Citizenship is a multidimensional construct encompassing the degree to which individuals with different life experiences perceive inclusion or involvement across a variety of activities and concepts.