I’ve been a health librarian for 25 years(!) and  have done literally hundreds, if not thousands of literature searches for library customers over the years. But it was a big step into the unknown when I was asked to join a research team in the Trust to be involved in their integrative review into serious incident investigations in community mental health settings covering the information specialist role.

The team was led by Dr Helen Haylor, the Service Evaluation Lead in Acute Community Mental Health Services in our Trust and others in the team were Professor Gerry Armitage, Research Advisor to the Trust and Professor Tony Sparkes from the University of Bradford. What was really great about the team was the inclusion of experts through experience, giving their knowledge and insight into a difficult and emotional subject with grace and bravery.

As a part of this team of experts, I was tasked with crafting the search strategy which involved many discussions around the virtual table, wrestling with different terminology, trying different combinations of the terms, and then abandoning fruitless searches! I definitely felt the pressure at the beginning of the project as we couldn’t go any further until we had the search strategy nailed down and the results for the team to go through and select.

Eventually we got there, and the results were sifted and selected by the team and the work on the review could begin in earnest. I was not part of this process, but I was in the background, rerunning searches, checking for new papers, and sending through research that I came across through grey literature searching. Eventually, the time came to try for publishing! I wrote the section on the literature searching process and then Helen and Tony pulled all the strands together and submitted the manuscript to BJPsych Bulletin.

The paper was accepted and published in January, which was a testament to the hard work of the review team. The paper adds valuable insight into the serious incident investigation process in mental health following a suicide and hopefully will lead to further work looking at how investigations can become more meaningful and person-centred.

For me, being involved in process from start to finish was a real privilege. I learnt so much from the team and realised that the skills I’d developed over my time as an information professional were valuable. Librarians are the experts in searching and having an information professional on your team can only enhance your work. Research is exciting and I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to be involved. I am hoping that more will follow!

Haylor, H., Sparkes, T., Armitage, G., Dawson-Jones, M., Double, K., & Edwards, L. (2024). The process and perspective of serious incident investigations in adult community mental health services: integrative review and synthesis. BJPsych Bulletin, 1–13. doi:10.1192/bjb.2023.98

Melanie Dawson – Knowledge Manager – Bradford District Care NHS trust