BACKGROUND: Despite considerable investment in research priority setting within diverse fields of healthcare, little is known about the extent to which different stakeholder groups share research priorities. Conflicting priorities may jeopardize stakeholder engagement in research.
OBJECTIVE: To identify the research priorities of different stakeholder groups within mental health care and examine the extent and nature of agreement between them.
DESIGN: Using a Delphi technique, we conducted parallel consultation processes within four different stakeholder groups. Each group process consisted of three rounds.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: The study was carried out within a mental health and learning disabilities trust in southern England. Participants were recruited from the following groups: mental health service users (34), informal carers (26), mental health practitioners (35) and service managers (23).
FINDINGS: There were striking differences between the four groups in respect of their ability and willingness to make priority decisions. These differences notwithstanding, there was considerable overlap in respect of their research interests. All groups identified and attached high importance to issues relating to the promotion of independence, self-esteem and recovery. The quality of in-patient care, the place of psychological therapies and the relationship between physical and mental health also emerged across the board.
CONCLUSIONS: The confluence of four different stakeholder groups around a number of clear themes is highly encouraging, providing a framework within which to construct a research agenda and suggesting that mental health research can be built on solid partnerships.