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Multidisciplinary Team Functioning and Decision Making within Forensic Mental Health

Haines, A and Perkins, E and Evans, E and McCabe, R (2018) Multidisciplinary Team Functioning and Decision Making within Forensic Mental Health. Mental Health Review Journal, 23 (3). pp. 185-196. ISSN 1361-9322

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the operation of multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings within a forensic hospital in England, UK. Design/methodology/approach – Mixed methods, including qualitative face to face interviews with professionals and service users, video observations of MDT meetings and documentary analysis. Data were collected from 142 staff and 30 service users who consented to take part in the research and analysed using the constant comparison technique of grounded theory and ethnography. Findings – Decisions taken within MDT meetings are unequally shaped by the professional and personal values and assumptions of those involved, as well as by the power dynamics linked to the knowledge and responsibility of each member of the team. Service users’ involvement is marginalised. This is linked to a longstanding tradition of psychiatric paternalism in mental health care. Research limitations/implications – Future research should explore the nuances of interactions between MDT professionals and service users during the meetings, the language used and the approach taken by professionals to enable/empower service user to be actively involved. Practical implications – Clear aims, responsibilities and implementation actions are a pre-requisite to effective MDT working. There is a need to give service users greater responsibility and power regarding their care. Originality/value – While direct (video) observations were very difficult to achieve in secure settings, they enabled unmediated access to how people conducted themselves rather than having to rely only on their subjective accounts ( from the interviews).

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