They’re NICE and neat, but are they useful? A grounded theory of clinical psychologists’ beliefs about, and use of NICE guidelines

Court, Alex J., Cooke, A. and Scrivener, A. (2016) They’re NICE and neat, but are they useful? A grounded theory of clinical psychologists’ beliefs about, and use of NICE guidelines. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. ISSN 1063-3995.

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Abstract

Guidelines are ubiquitous but inconsistently used in UK mental health services. Clinical psychologists are often influential in guideline development and implementation, but opinion within the profession is divided. This study utilised grounded theory methodology to examine clinical psychologists’ beliefs about, and use of NICE guidelines. Eleven clinical psychologists working in the NHS were interviewed. The overall emerging theme was; NICE guidelines are considered to have benefits but to be fraught with dangers. Participants were concerned that guidelines can create an unhelpful illusion of neatness. They managed the tension between the helpful and unhelpful aspects of guidelines by relating to them in a flexible manner. The participants reported drawing on specialist skills such as idiosyncratic formulation and integration. However, due to the pressures and dominant discourses within services they tended to practice in ways that prevent these skills from being recognised. This led to fears that their professional identity was threatened, which impacted upon perceptions of the guidelines. To our knowledge, the theoretical framework presented in this paper is the first that attempts to explain why NICE guidelines are not consistently utilised in UK mental health services. The current need for services to demonstrate ‘NICE compliance’ may be leading to a perverse incentive for clinical psychologists in particular to do one thing but say another and for specialist skills to be obscured. If borne out by future studies, this represents a threat to continued quality improvement and also to the profession.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0435 Psychiatry
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Anne Cooke
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2016 15:59
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2016 18:07
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/15207

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00