From November 1987 until March 1990 I worked as a researcher with the TAPS project. So far this project's task has been to evaluate the reprovision of hospital services for the long-term mentally ill from two hospitals in the North East Thames Region (Team for the Assessment of Psychiatric Services, 1988). My work involved gathering clinical and social data from over 250 patients and their carers after they had spent a year out of hospital. Most of these patients were suffering from schizophrenia. The design and first results (Team for the Assessment of Psychiatric Services, 1990) provide an objective account of this research. In contrast, this paper intends to put forth a subjective view of some of the problems encountered while obtaining these data in the community. This situation faced the researcher with unique and challenging circumstances that are not normally discussed in the scientific presentation of follow-up data. Its aim is to pre-empt similar difficulties for other community reserarch by providing guidelines. I am going to cover three areas: arranging interviews, conducting them safely, and handling situations that necessitate stepping out of the interviewer role.
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