Understanding the life experiences of people with multiple complex needs: peer research in a health needs assessment

Harland, Jill M., Adams, Emma A., Boobis, Sophie, Cheetham, Mandy, Wiseman, Alice and Ramsay, Sheena E. (2022) Understanding the life experiences of people with multiple complex needs: peer research in a health needs assessment. The European Journal of Public Health, 32 (2). pp. 176-190. ISSN 1101-1262

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckab142


Multiple complex needs (MCN) describe a population experiencing a combination of homelessness, substance use, offending and/or mental ill-health. Using peer researchers, this study aimed to explore the perspectives of individuals with lived experience of MCN with regards to (i) issues leading to MCN and (ii) key intervention opportunities.

As part of a health needs assessment in Gateshead (North East England), trained peer researchers interviewed 27 adults (aged ≥18 years) with experience of MCN, identified using purposive sampling methods. Peer researchers designed a topic guide for interviews which were audio recorded and thematically analyzed.

Interviewees reported adverse childhood experiences leading to MCN including abuse, bereavement, parental imprisonment, family break-up and inadequate support. Mental ill-health, substance use, poverty, early experiences of unstable housing and acute homelessness were identified as major precedents for adulthood experiences of MCN. Between 16 and 20 years, access to housing, social and mental health support was perceived as having the potential to prevent circumstances worsening. Individuals perceived removing barriers to mental health, housing and welfare and financial supports could help.

This study highlights the perceived role austerity, adverse childhood events and current service provision have in current and future experiences of MCN. Individuals expressed a need for future interventions and support to be judgement free and provided by workers who are educated about MCN and related adversity. Involving peer researchers and individuals with experience of MCN in future research and service provision could ensure appropriate measures and supports are put in place.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: No funding was received for this work. E.A.A., M.C. and S.E.R. are members of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health (www.fuse.ac.uk). Fuse is a UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding for Fuse from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, National Institute of Health Research, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Office, Northern Ireland, National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (Welsh Assembly Government) and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UKCRC, is gratefully acknowledged. E.A.A. is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR) Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Grant Reference Number PD-SPH-2015. This research is supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC). The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research and provides the people, facilities and technology that enables research to thrive. Find out more about the NIHR. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.
Subjects: B700 Nursing
B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2021 10:43
Last Modified: 03 May 2022 13:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47074

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