Research Study Questionnaire - The Experience and Impact of Complaints made against Psychotherapists working within the NHS

Research Subject Information Sheet:

The Experience and Impact of Complaints Made Against Psychotherapists Working Within the NHS


Anecdotally it has been recognised that complaints made against psychotherapists by either patients, their families or some other agency, may have implications for the practitioner, and to some extent, their practice. This exploratory, qualitative study would look at the nature and impact of such complaints. The benefits of the study would be that, with this knowledge, psychotherapists, patients and the organisation would be better informed about the effects of complaints, which may be detrimental if left unacknowledged and unexplored. In terms of the therapists, knowledge of such effects would enhance their capacity to function effectively, reducing stress and preparing them emotionally. These factors would in themselves have obvious beneficial effects on patients, in terms of therapist effectiveness and availability. The study would benefit the NHS by providing information and awareness about the direct or indirect effects of complaints on the institution. It would also demonstrate the strengths and deficiencies of the complaints system.

What will I have to do if I take part?

In order to take part you need to complete the attached questionnaire. If you have never been at the receiving end of a complaint as a psychotherapist, you may choose simply to fill out the section regarding demographic details, and to return the form. This in itself would be helpful information for the research. There is a consent box incorporated in the questionnaire enabling you to comment on any specific complaints made, as this information will give us a valuable flavour, and insight into the impact of complaints.

What are the possible risks of taking part?

All returned forms will be kept in a locked filing cabinet and will be used solely for the purpose of this research project. The names of the subjects will be known to the person sending out the forms but not to any of the investigators. The identity of patients will be protected even when specific examples are used, and where it is felt that anonymity appears vulnerable in any of the responses, this will not be included as a specific example. As the names of research subject participants are unknown to the investigators, it may be that you receive a copy of the questionnaire more than once. I apologise if this occurs. It only needs to be completed once.

A potential risk identified may be the psychological stress induced by completing the questionnaire, and hence bringing to mind difficult past experiences.

Are there any possible benefits?

By taking part you may experience a positive reaction, in being able to voice an opinion on a difficult, possibly traumatic experience. In addition to this, you would be adding to a limited resource in this research field, and helping to develop further research in this important area.

Do I have to take part?

It is entirely up to you to complete the questionnaire. You do not have to give a reason if you choose not to do this. If you only partially complete the questionnaire it would be helpful if you return this, as any information we receive will be of benefit.

What do I do now?

Please could you complete the questionnaire and return it to the address below:

Dr Katherine Barnes, SpR Psychiatry, Bowness Unit, Prestwich Hospital, Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Trust, Bury New Road, Prestwich, Manchester M25 3BL or Email :

Published by Kim Meldrum on 28th Oct 2008

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