Information in mental health: Qualitative study of mental health service users
Powell J., Clarke A.
Background: Despite the widespread proliferation of consumer health information provision, little is known about information needs or information-seeking behaviour in mental health. A qualitative study was therefore undertaken to explore these issues for mental health service users. Design: In-depth interview study with purposive sample of 36 men and women with experience of mental health problems. Results: Four main themes were identified. A general lack of information was equated with a lack of respect. People undertook their own research into their condition, and recognized the challenge to professionals. Stigma was widespread and inhibited information seeking. There was a desire for an explanation of mental health problems in physical terms. People particularly valued hearing other people's experience of mental health problems, for reasons of universality, instillation of hope, and understanding and empathy. Conclusions: The findings provide support for a more equal partnership between patients and professionals. Information providers and health practitioners should take account of the value of other people's experience as an information source. © 2006 The Authors.