• collaboration;
  • evidence base;
  • review;
  • service users

Aim  This paper aims to explore the evidence base of patient involvement in the management of health care services.

Background  It has been suggested that, as well as acknowledging the role that service users could play in deciding their own treatment, they should also be involved in the managerial aspects of health service delivery. However, there is no robust evidence base to support user involvement either in terms of patient preference or in terms of improved service outcomes.

Methods  Seven databases were searched using the search terms ‘user involvement’ and ‘service management’. Terms were adjusted for each database to maximize the number of hits. Each paper was graded using the sophisticated typology developed by the UK Department of Health.

Results  Four key issues emerged surrounding organizational power, shared meaning, liaison and user contribution.

Conclusions  There is a reasonable body of robust qualitative evidence surrounding user involvement in health service management but a disappointing lack of quantitative studies or mixed methods approaches.

Implications for nursing management  Using the emergent messages will assist service mangers in enhancing user/provider collaborations.