Ethnography and the Ethics of Undertaking Research in Different Mental Healthcare Settings
Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing 2010 Apr; 17(3): 210-5
This paper draws on our experiences of seeking research ethics and management approval for a 1-year ethnographic research study in three mental health settings. We argue that the increased bureaucratization of research governance in the UK is paternalistic and unfit for qualitative, non-interventionist study designs. The classification of all mental health services users as 'vulnerable' is also disempowering and contrary to government calls to increase user involvement in research processes. We relate our difficulties in accessing National Health Service sites to undertake our study despite endorsement by senior managers. The current research ethics system reinforces the gatekeeping role of front-line National Health Service staff but this may work to bias samples in favour of 'amenable' service users and exclude others from having their views and experiences represented in studies over the long-term.
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