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Service user, patient, client, user or survivor: describing recipients of mental health services

  • Peter Simmons (a1), Chris J. Hawley (a1) (a2), Tim M. Gale (a1) and Thanusha Sivakumaran (a1)
Abstract
Aims and method

To determine which terms receivers of mental health services wish to be known by (service user, patient, client, user, survivor) according to the professional consulted (psychiatrist, nurse, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist). We conducted a questionnaire study to assess terms by like or dislike and by rank order. There were 336 participants from local catchment area secondary care community and in-patient settings in east Hertfordshire.

Results

Patient is the preferred term when consulted by psychiatrists and nurses, but it is equally preferable to client for social workers and occupational therapists. Service user is disliked more than liked overall, particularly by those who consulted a health professional, but not by those who consulted a social worker. A significant minority wish to be regarded as a survivor or user.

Clinical implications

National and local mental health services should adopt evidence-based terminology in referring to ‘patient’ or, in some groups, ‘patient or client’ in preference to ‘service user’.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Peter Simmons (peter.simmons@hertspartsft.nhs.uk)
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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1 General Medical Council. Good Medical Practice. GMC, 2006 (http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/good_medical_practice/duties_of_a_doctor.asp).
2 Nursing and Midwifery Council. The Code: Standards of Conduct, Performacne and Ethics for Nurses and Midwives. NMC, 2008 (http://www.nmc-uk.org/aDisplayDocument.aspx?documentID=5982).
3 British Association of Social Workers. The Code of Ethics for Social Work. BASW, 2002 (http://www.basw.co.uk/Portals/0/CODE%20OF%20ETHICS.pdf).
4 British Psychological Society. Code of Ethics and Conduct. BPS, 2006 (http://www.bps.org.uk/downloadfile.cfm?file_uuid=5084A882-1143-DFD0-7E6C-F1938A65C242&ext=pdf).
5 College of Occupational Therapists. Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (Revised). College of Occupational Therapists, 2005 (http://www.cot.org.uk/MainWebSite/Resources/Document/Code-of-Ethics.pdf).
6 Neuberger, J. Do we need a new word for patients? Let's do away with ‘patients’. BMJ 1999; 318: 1756–8.
7 Department of Health. National Service Framework for Mental Health. Department of Health, 1999.
8 Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Physicians of London, British Medical Association. Mental Illness: Stigmatisation and Discrimination within the Medical Profession (CR91). Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2001.
9 Mind. Mind celebrates 60 years of speaking out. 27 April 2006 (http://www.mind.org.uk/news/1836_mind_celebrates_60_years_of_speaking_out).
10 Ritchie, CW, Hayes, D, Ames, DJ. Patient or client? The opinions of people attending a psychiatric clinic. Psychiatr Bull 2000; 24: 447–50.
11 McGuire-Snieckus, R, McCabe, R, Priebe, S. Patient, client or service user? A survey of patient preferences of dress and address of six mental health professions. Psychiatr Bull 2003; 27: 305–8.
12 Appleby, L. The National Service Framework for Mental Health – Five Years On. Department of Health, 2004.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 1758-3209
  • EISSN: 1758-3217
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Service user, patient, client, user or survivor: describing recipients of mental health services

  • Peter Simmons (a1), Chris J. Hawley (a1) (a2), Tim M. Gale (a1) and Thanusha Sivakumaran (a1)
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