Background Service users wish to be involved in care planning but typically feel marginalized in this process. Qualitative explorations of the barriers and enablers of user involvement in mental health care planning are limited.
Question How is user involvement in care planning conceptualized by service users and how can meaningful involvement be instilled in the care planning process?
Methods In 2013, we conducted five focus groups (n=27) and 23 individual interviews with current or recent adult users of secondary care mental health services (n=27) in England. Eight users participated in both. Data were analysed using Framework Analysis.
Results Ten themes emerged from the data: these themes encompassed procedural elements (connection; contribution; currency; care consolidation; and consequence), service user characteristics (capacity and confidence) and professional enablers (consultation; choice; and clarity of expression). Procedural elements were discussed most frequently in service user discourse.
Discussion The process of care planning, centred on the user-clinician relationship, is key to user involvement.
Implications for Practice Users describe a common model of meaningful involvement in care planning. Their requests, summarized through a 10C framework of care planning involvement, provide clear direction for improving service users satisfaction with care planning and enhancing the culture of services.