This is a mixed-methods study evaluating the effectiveness of Decision Units, a type of mental health crisis care.

This research is being co-produced. This means that people with their own lived experience of mental health issues have been involved in developing the study’s approach and will be involved in managing and undertaking the research alongside researchers working from other areas of expertise. The coproduction includes a local service user group ‘PEER’ (Peer Expertise in Education and Research), a national lived experience advisory panel (LEAP) and academic researchers who have lived experience of mental health difficulties.

Routinely Collected Healthcare data

Permission will be sought from service users to use routinely collected healthcare data from two Decision Units for a period of 18 months. The data will be statistically analysed to see what effect the first stay on the Decision Unit had on care pathways before and after a Decision Unit admission, and whether staying on the unit has had an impact on the pattern of service use. We will also use data aggregated for Trust statistics, such as the average waiting time for people presenting with mental health problems to A&E, in a two week period, to look at whether the launch of the local MDHU has had an impact on these types of service level outcomes.


Many service users will be asked to complete a short quality of life survey. 


Qualitative interviews will be completed with around 30 service users shortly after they have been on a decision unit and again 9 months afterwards. These interviews will explore experiences of being referred to, assessed and receiving therapeutic support on the unit along with the general unit environment. How the unit compared to other mental health services accessed in the last year will also be discussed.

We will also be interviewing Decision Unit staff, staff on the crisis care pathway and staff involved in planning services to find out about their experiences and perspectives.

Economic modelling

The economic analysis will include looking at cost and impact of Decision Units in terms of crisis care pathways in a geographical area  and for individual service users.