Plymouth University School of Nursing and Midwifery, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA, UK
To reports a study in which action research approach was utilised to introduce a new system of risk
assessment, based on traffic lights, into a community mental health team.
Risk management is a serious concern in community mental healthcare where there is less direct, real-time
supervision of clients than in other settings, and because inadequate management of risk can have fatal consequences
when service users are a risk to themselves and/or others.
An action research design was undertaken, using three phases of Look, Think and Act.
Data were collected between January and March of 2012. In the action research phases, qualitative data were
collected in focus groups with the team’s multi-disciplinary mental health professionals. Data were transcribed verbatim
and analysed thematically, which involved agreement of themes and interpretations by two researchers. The Look, Think
and Act phases guided the development of the project; team members worked collaboratively on the traffic light system,
implemented and evaluated it.
Themes were constructed that were discussed across the focus groups. These themes were: Ease of use; Risk
identification and management; Legal status; Different teams’ views of risk; Post-implementation evaluation.
Action research has been used to implement change in mental health risk management. Others internationally
would benefit from considering a Traffic Light System, and in using action research to implement it.
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