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Models and Effectiveness of Service User and Carer Involvement in Social Work Education: A Literature Review

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Publication details

JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2012
DatePublished (current) - 30 Jul 2013
Issue number5
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)925-944
Early online date3/04/12
Original languageEnglish


Service users and carers are required to be involved in all qualifying and post-qualifying social work programmes (PQ) in the UK. However, there is a wide spectrum of opinion amongst stakeholders about what constitutes meaningful involvement in advanced level PQ programmes (Webber and Robinson, 2011). We reviewed the literature on service user and carer involvement in social work education to identify models and methods that have been used, and the evidence for their effectiveness. Through mapping twenty-nine studies included in the review against a modified version of Kirkpatrick’s (1967) framework for the evaluation of training, we found widespread support amongst service users, carers, students and lecturers for involvement initiatives but little empirical evidence that it improves outcomes for students. Also, no studies evaluated its effect on social work practice or on outcomes for future service users and carers. It is vital that involvement, and indeed every other aspect of training, is evidence-based, particularly in the context of the current reform of UK social work training. Research is urgently required on the effect of service user and carer involvement on outcomes for social workers and the service users and carers they work with.

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