Service user involvement in social work research: Learning from an adoption research project

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Service user involvement in research has triggered debate about epistemology, power relationships between researchers and participants, ethics and the validity of research findings. The social work profession encourages respect for service users and promotion of their rights—values which arguably should be reflected in social work research. This paper presents a case study of service user involvement in a government-funded adoption research project. The research team included a birth relative consultant group and the paper discusses both the process and outcomes of their involvement. The benefits and costs of service user involvement are highlighted. Reflections from the consultants about their experiences of being involved in the research are included. The discussion positions the project in relation to existing theories and models of service user involvement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-240
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • adoption
  • research and evaluation
  • service users
  • user participation

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