People with mental illness have a significantly lower life expectancy and higher rates of chronic physical illnesses than the general population. Health care system reform to improve access and quality is greatly needed to address this inequity. The inclusion of consumers of mental health services as co-investigators in research is likely to enhance service reform. In light of this, the current paper reviews mental health consumer focussed research conducted to date, addressing the neglect of physical health in mental health care and initiatives with the aim of improving physical health care. The international literature on physical healthcare in the context of mental health services was searched for articles, including mental health consumers in research roles, via Medline, CINAHL and Google Scholar, in October 2015. Four studies where mental health consumers participated as researchers were identified. Three studies involved qualitative research on barriers and facilitators to physical health care access, and a fourth study on developing technologies for more effective communication between GPs and patients. This review found that participatory mental health consumer research in physical health care reform has only become visible in the academic literature in 2015. Heightened consideration of mental health consumer participation in research is required by health care providers and researchers. Mental health nurses can provide leadership in increasing mental health consumer research on integrated care directed towards reducing the health gap between people with and without mental illness.
HAPPELL, B., PLATANIA-PHUNG, C., & Stanton, R. (2016). Participative mental health consumer research for improving physical health care: An integrative review. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 25(5), 399-408. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12226