Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Protocol for a realist evaluation of Recovery College dementia courses: understanding coproduction through ethnography

Birt, Linda; West, Juniper; Poland, Fiona; Wong, Geoff; Handley, Melanie; Litherland, Rachael; Hackmann, Corinna; Moniz-Cook, Esme; Wolverson, Emma; Teague, Bonnie; Mills, Ruth; Sams, Kathryn; Duddy, Claire; Fox, Chris


Linda Birt

Juniper West

Fiona Poland

Geoff Wong

Melanie Handley

Rachael Litherland

Corinna Hackmann

Profile Image

Professor Esme Moniz-Cook
Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology of Ageing and Dementia Care Research / Dementia Research Work Group Lead

Profile Image

Dr Emma Wolverson
Reader in Ageing and Dementia. Research Lead for Dementia UK.

Bonnie Teague

Ruth Mills

Kathryn Sams

Claire Duddy

Chris Fox


Introduction Support following a dementia diagnosis in the UK is variable. Attending a Recovery College course with and for people with dementia, their supporters and healthcare professionals (staff), may enable people to explore and enact ways to live well with dementia. Recovery Colleges are established within mental health services worldwide, offering peer-supported short courses coproduced in partnership between staff and people with lived experience of mental illness. The concept of recovery is challenging in dementia narratives, with little evidence of how the Recovery College model could work as a method of postdiagnostic dementia support. Methods and analysis Using a realist evaluation approach, this research will examine and define what works, for whom, in what circumstances and why, in Recovery College dementia courses. The ethnographic study will recruit five case studies from National Health Service Mental Health Trusts across England. Sampling will seek diversity in new or long-standing courses, delivery methods and demographics of population served. Participant observations will examine course coproduction. Interviews will be undertaken with people with dementia, family and friend supporters and staff involved in coproducing and commissioning the courses, as well as people attending. Documentary materials will be reviewed. Analysis will use a realist logic of analysis to develop a programme theory containing causal explanations for outcomes, in the form of context-mechanism-outcome-configurations, at play in each case. Ethics and dissemination The study received approval from Coventry & Warwickshire Research Ethics Committee (22/WM/0215). Ethical concerns include not privileging any voice, consent for embedded observational fieldwork with people who may experience fluctuating mental capacity and balancing researcher 'embedded participant' roles in publicly accessible learning events. Drawing on the realist programme theory, two stakeholder groups, one people living with dementia and one staff will work with researchers to coproduce resources to support coproducing Recovery College dementia courses aligned with postdiagnostic services.


Birt, L., West, J., Poland, F., Wong, G., Handley, M., Litherland, R., …Fox, C. (2023). Protocol for a realist evaluation of Recovery College dementia courses: understanding coproduction through ethnography. BMJ open, 13(12), Article e078248.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 7, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 7, 2023
Publication Date Dec 7, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 13, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 15, 2024
Journal BMJ Open
Print ISSN 2044-6055
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 12
Article Number e078248
Public URL


Published article (472 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

You might also like

Downloadable Citations