Service users may express positive, ambivalent, or negative views of their hospital admission. The objective of this study was to determine whether the background of the interviewer—service user–researcher or clinician—influences the information elicited. The primary outcome was the level of perceived coercion on admission, and secondary outcomes were perceived pressures on admission, procedural justice, perceived necessity for admission, satisfaction with services, and willingness to consent to participate in the study.
Participants voluntarily and involuntarily admitted to three hospitals in Ireland were randomly allocated to be interviewed at hospital discharge by either a service user–researcher or a clinician. Interviewers used the MacArthur Admission Experience Survey and the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire.
A total of 161 participants were interviewed. No differences by interviewer status or by admission status (involuntary or voluntary) were found in levels of perceived coercion, perceived pressures, procedural justice, perceived necessity, or satisfaction with services. Service users were more likely to decline to participate if their consent was sought by a service user–researcher (24% versus 8%, p=.003).
Most interviewees gave positive accounts of their admission regardless of interviewer status. The findings indicate that clinicians and researchers can be more confident that service users’ positive accounts of admissions are not attributable to a response bias. Researchers can also feel more confident in directly comparing the results of studies undertaken by clinicians and by service user–researchers.