This panel discusses the opportunities and challenges that can emerge when the interview is designed and conducted by service user/peer researchers as a method for accessing the views of marginalised groups and individuals through building trust and sharing power in the interview situation.
This panel will discuss the opportunities that can emerge when the interview is designed and conducted by peer researchers to access the views of groups and individuals who are 'hard to reach/seldom heard'. The panel members will provide examples from their published and ongoing research where academic and peer/service user researchers have effectively engaged respondents in meaningful two-way exchanges in which trust was built in interview situations. In these contexts the respondents, based on past negative experiences of 'involvement' and 'consultation fatigue', may have been both highly suspicious and sceptical towards participation. Panel presentations will consider whether, by genuinely attempting to deal with imbalances of power and control in the interview situation, researchers have greater opportunities to access better quality information through learning from the interview techniques employed by service user/peer researchers as collaborators in such endeavours. Evidence could be presented to show how effective the peer or user interview is as a means for both gaining the trust of respondents and for ensuring that the research findings and recommendations have subsequent meaningful impact. Furthermore the challenges involved in endowing peer researchers with the appropriate skills to interview and the accompanying advantages and disadvantages will be discussed. An important element of the latter will involve discussion about how involvement in interviewing can in turn develop the capacity of the peer researcher for involvement in future research activity.