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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

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Completed projects


Below is a list of research projects at the Royal College of Psychiatrists that have now been completed.


If you would like further information about any of these projects, please contact Alan Quirk, Senior Research Fellow, at:


  • Addiction Psychiatry services

This study investigated the roles and responsibilities of addiction psychiatrists in the organisation and provision of addiction psychiatric services in England.

  • Audit of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Practice

This audit project examined the practice of ECT in England and Wales against standards set by The ECT Handbook: The Second Report of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Special Committee on ECT.


Results were published in an article, Junior Doctors Training in the Theory and Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy in the Psychiatric Bulletin Volume 21, p363 -365.

  • Audit Pack for the Care Programme Approach
In 1994, the College Research Unit was commissioned by the Department of Health to produce a monitoring tool for auditing local implementation of the Care Programme Approach (CPA). Work was completed in 1995 and the resulting Audit Pack was published by the NHS Executive in February 1996.

Key issues for audit included:

  • Inter-disciplinary working and the integration of CPA and Care Management
  • Purchaser knowledge based on needs
  • Targeting of the severely mentally ill
  • Involving users and carers
  • CPA outcomes
  • The CPA Process
  • Training for CPA

The pack was widely distributed to all healthcare purchasers, providers and libraries. The NHS Executive issued guidelines recommending that every service should audit the CPA using the pack or an alternative audit product.

  • Availability of treatment for addiction in medium secure wards

This study investigated and described the availability of treatment for substance misuse problems to patients in NHS-managed medium secure forensic psychiatric care in England who have a dual diagnosis.

  • Career Intentions in Psychiatric Trainees and Consultants (CIPTAC)

This project gathered accurate and meaningful data on the level of 'attrition' at each stage of psychiatric training, nationally, regionally and locally, and further investigated why trainees leave at each stage.

  • Carer and User Expectations of Services questionnaire ('CUES')
Client and Carer-Focused Outcome Measures of the Outcomes of Social Care for Adults with Severe Mental Illness was one of the thirteen projects comprised of the Outcomes of Social Care for Adults (OSCA) initiative, commissioned by the Department of Health. The project was a collaboration between organisations which represent people with mental health problems, their carers, and the three main professions involved in mental health care. The project was run jointly by The National Schizophrenia Fellowship, the Royal College of Psychiatrists Research Unit, the Royal College of Nursing Institute and the School of Social Work at the University of East Anglia. The two-year project developed a set of scales to help service users and carers to:
  • Communicate more effectively with doctors, nurses and social workers with regard to their own priorities for treatment, care and support
    • Participate in improving services to meet their needs


The dissemination of CUES was managed by the National Schizophrenia Fellowship.

  • Clinical Standards Advisory Group - Depression

The College Research Unit, in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners Effective Clinical Practice Unit and the Health Advisory Service (HAS 2000) was commissioned to conduct research into services for people with depression on behalf of the Clinical Standards Advisory Group.

The programme of work included: development of standards for NHS services for depression, visits to eleven UK districts to evaluate services available to people with depression, a national survey of GPs and the secondary analysis of national data sets

  • Clinical Standards Advisory Group Schizophrenia

In 1993 the Secretary of State for Health announced a Ten Point Plan for developing safe and successful community care in response to public and professional concern about the care of people with severe mental illness. One of these ten points called for a review by the Clinical Standards Advisory Group (CSAG) of the standards of care for people with schizophrenia.


The College Research Unit was asked to collate existing statements of clinical standards and was then commissioned to carry out a study to assess standards of NHS mental health services in eleven UK health authorities. The subsequent report was published in 1995.


The CSAG report highlighted concerns about mental health services and was one of the factors that led the Minister of Health at that time writing to the health authorities asking for implementation of the Care Programme Approach. The CSAG service evaluation protocol has been applied by visiting teams to a number of mental health services since the completion of the project. It is also being used by the Health Advisory Service (HAS 2000) as the basis for further development and refinement in methods for reviewing mental health services.

  • Dual Diagnosis Information Project (DDIP) 

This study's aim was to raise awareness and knowledge levels among substance misuse and mental health professionals of psychiatric comorbidity (dual diagnosis).

  • Living with serious mental illness

As part of The Living Project, a researcher immersed himself in the everyday lives of people with severe mental illness who live in a deprived part of London. This offered important insight into the real meaning of social exclusion for this vulnerable group.

Funded from 2003 to 2007 by the Big Lottery Fund. Publications ongoing.

  • Mental Health Act Review

This research was completed in 2000 and the final reports from the various research studies in the research programme were submitted to the Department of Health in early 2000.

A conference summary of the results was held in March 2000. Findings from the research projects have been disseminated in papers in various outlets such as academic journals.

  • Mental Health Residential Care Study
This was an NHS R&D funded project which aimed to assess the characteristics and needs of all those people with functional mental illness in residential accommodation in eight districts. The principal question addressed the extent to which these residents were appropriately placed. The project involved the assessment of residents in NHS, local authority and voluntary/private accommodation and the facilities available to them.

The project was completed in March 1995 and led to the development of a new classification of facilities which allowed comparisons of provision in different districts. A methodology to enable a national census of residential accommodation for people who have mental health problems was also developed. The College Research Unit and the CEMH have examined local provision via census days.


Articles relating to the project were published in the specialist mental health press.

  • National Audit of the Care Programme Approach

In Autumn 1995, the NHS Executive set a target for full implementation of the Care Programme Approach (CPA) by the December of that year. Ensuring the full implementation of the CPA became a priority for health authorities and trusts providing mental health services.

  • National Audit of the Management of Violence in Mental Health Settings: 1999-2000

Ninety-six psychiatric wards from 42 English mental health services participated in an audit of the management of violence in adult in-patient settings.

Key National Findings

Key Recommendations


Forty-four psychiatric wards from 27 learning disability services participated in an audit of the management of violence in services for people with learning disabilities.

  • National Multi-Centre Audit of the Prescribing of Anti-Psychotic Medication
This audit project was undertaken in 1998/99 and was the second subscription-based multi-centre clinical audit to be organised by the CRU. The prescribing of anti-psychotic medication, a key priority area for mental health providers was chosen for a number of reasons:
  • Over prescribing may lead to dangerous or unnecessary side effects
  • Side effects are frequently cited by service users as a reason for non-compliance with medication and other aspects of care
  • Poor practice or inadequate note-keeping on the prescription of anti-psychotics accounts for a high proportion of negligence claims against mental health services
  • Permanent neurological damage or death caused by anti-psychotic medication may be dose-related
  • The cost of new atypical anti-psychotic drugs may lead to their use being rationalised

Launched in June 1998, over 50 Trusts subscribed to this audit which examined the prescribing of anti-psychotic medication (including the use of high and multiple doses) based on standards developed by an expert panel convened by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

  • Online member surveys

This survey addressed the important role that psychiatrists play in managing the risk that a small number of people with mental health problems pose to others.

The detailed results can be accessed by College members here

  • Self-employment and mental health: 'Business Minds' demonstration project

This project was a collaboration between Project North East, the Hamlet Trust, and the College Research and Training Unit.

This project focused on the innovative Business Minds demonstration project in Newcastle. It aimed to explore whether it was possible for a mainstream ‘high-street’ business advice agency to engage with people with mental health problems who wanted to become self-employed.

Download the project report here

  • Survey of Flexibly trained consultant psychiatrists
As an off-shoot to the CIPTAC project, a sub-project examined the experiences of those psychiatrists that trained flexibly. This project replicated the study on a national basis to identify what happened to this particular group of trainees, with the aim of providing data to allow further workforce planning.


Click here to download a copy of the Psychiatrists'career development after flexible training final report

  • Training Needs Analysis
The College Research Unit was successful in gaining support from the Workforce Action Team at the Department of Health (DoH) to pilot a new method for a systematic training needs analysis (TNA) in mental health. This was part funded by the DoH and the Trust in which the TNA was to be piloted. The TNA aimed to match training the workforce in mental health and social care to the needs of the local population.
The skills that were audited included those for evidence-based interventions, for delivery of the National Service Framework in mental health and the NHS Plan, and for the implementation of clinical governance.

Click here to download the Assessment Schedule

Click here to download the TNA Executive Summary

Click here to download the TNA Manual Brief Guide




Health Services Research, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 4th Floor Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA    


Page updated June 2012

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