Objective: To identify methods for involving service users in the planning and delivery of psychiatric services and factors which may assist and impede this process.
Method: A cross-sectional postal survey of user groups and providers of psychiatric services throughout Greater London (UK).
Results: Seventeen (94%) service providers and 29 (48%) user groups responded to the survey. Service providers employed a wide variety of different methods for involving users but none met national standards for user involvement (UI). Service providers stated that the main obstacle to UI was that users who took part were not representative of local patients. User groups highlighted staff resistance as a major obstacle and 80% stated that they were not satisfied with current arrangements for UI.
Conclusion: While users and providers of mental health services were able to identify changes resulting from UI the responsiveness of staff and the representativeness of service users may be impeding this process.