Research in Mental Health Recovery Practice

Unit 2.2: Key Findings of Recovery Research

Why focus on the longitudinal studies


The longitudinal studies of the 20th century have demonstrated that people experiencing long term mental ill health can lead a reasonable life in the community even if not all of the symptoms associated with the illness have disappeared.

There is a growing number of people who experienced psychosis but have been able to lead a meaningful life beyond the illness. Patricia Deegan (see one of her articles below on shared decision making) offers one such an example: she moved from being a patient with schizophrenia to becoming a clinical psychologist and service user activist. Ms. Deegan continues to be on medication for her symptoms and at times to use hospitalisation, which she describes as her choice.

Longitudinal studies are rare in any field, because they are demanding in energy, time investment and funding. However, they offer us the opportunity to understand the processes and outcomes involved in a much more holistic way that snapshot studies do. They shed light on the possible meanings of the concept of recovery, its theory building, and the interventions related to it. Like any other research, the longitudinal studies are not immune from methodological difficulties. They attempt to follow up people over a long period of time if possible, or to trace relevant documentation from the past plus interviews of key people at the present.

Hence our gratitude to the researchers who have undertaken these studies in three continents (Asia, Europe and the US) and in a large number of countries.

Activity 1

Watch the presentation of the longitudinal studies by Prof. Shula Ramon


Consider what is unique to the 20th century  longitudinal studies.

Please summarise in a table format, the key findings of the studies reviewed in the presentation, and post the table as an attachment to the discussion board thread #Longitudinal Studies.  Please also explain how you decided that a finding is a key one.



Guide Time = 1.5 hours