JOURNAL ARTICLE

Talking with the experts: evaluation of an online discussion forum involving mental health service users in the education of mental health nursing students

Alan Simpson, Lisa Reynolds, Ian Light, Julie Attenborough
Nurse Education Today 2008, 28 (5): 633-40
17935836
The Chief Nursing Officer's recent review of mental health nursing called for the widespread involvement of mental health service users in the education of mental health nurses. This paper describes an innovative project that involved mental health service users in the education of pre-registration mental health nursing students through an online discussion forum that blended e-learning with enquiry-based learning (EBL). The findings of an evaluation are presented, drawing on quantitative and qualitative methods. Overall, the project was a success with students and service users engaging in online discussions on a range of issues. EBL presentations demonstrated understanding of the service user experience and students reflected on implications for clinical practice. All participants would take part again and recommend the online forum to others. Analysis of activity data revealed different levels and styles of student involvement. Limitations in communication skills appeared to limit student participation, alongside logistical difficulties, whereas the service users eagerly utilised the forum. Potential implications for healthcare education are discussed and recommendations made for developments in user-led e-learning and further research.

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