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The Lancet Psychiatry introduces new policy on reporting lived experience in research

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9 January 2024

The Lancet Psychiatry will now request that authors provide information on patient and public involvement in their research. These changes in reporting will explore if people with lived experience of mental illnesses were involved in designing the study and how. 

The Lancet Psychiatry publishes original research that advocates change in, or illuminates, psychiatric practice. Topics considered by the journal include psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and psychosocial approaches to all psychiatric disorders, across the life course.

Studies that did not include anyone with lived experience of mental illness in the research project lifecycle (developing questions, delivering the research, interpreting and writing findings) will still be published in the Lancet but will have to acknowledge a lack of Patient or Public Engagement or Involvement (PPIE) as a limitation of their work.

The policy announcement released by the Lancet Psychiatry stated:

“Lived experience perspectives are important for all research related to physical and mental health, helping to set priorities to ensure that the needs of people with particular conditions are being met adequately. They are perhaps especially important in mental health research, where biomarkers are often not the most relevant measure of conditions that by their nature affect the experience of self, mood, thought, distress, and interpersonal connection. Psychiatry has an uncomfortable history of ethical transgressions and damaging power dynamics in which people have been coerced, experimented on, and targeted by eugenic practices, and coercive practices continue today; this history heightens the urgency of listening to people’s experiences connected to mental health or ill health and to redressing the balance of power in the creation of knowledge, health-care practices, and policy.”
The involvement of people with lived experience of mental health illnesses in research can provide many benefits to a project. Their involvement can help to determine whether experts are asking meaningful questions. People with lived experience can also contribute to shaping the design of a research study to ensure that researchers conduct it in a way that does not exacerbate symptoms or cause distress for particular groups.

The full policy announcement is available to read from the Lancet Psychiatry: Reporting lived experience work

Bryony Doughty from MQ Mental Health Research also published an article in response to the announcement: The Lancet Psychiatry announces new approach to reporting lived experience in research.




Image: Miguel á Padriñán