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From September 2018 to October 2019, Q Lab UK and Mind worked in partnership to explore how care could be improved for people living with both mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain.

Over the 12-month project we worked collaboratively with:

  • Over 120 Lab participants (both Q and non-Q members), from a range of backgrounds and/or lived experience of the topic. Lab participants contributed to a range of in-depth research activities, including interviews, workshops, focus groups and surveys.
  • Five teams from health and care organisations across the UK to develop and test ideas in their local contexts.

Together, they helped shape the collective understanding of the topic and the learning and insights that have been published.

Project outputs: learning and resources

Mental health and persistent pain: an introduction: An essay outlining how Q Lab UK came to focus on mental health and persistent back and neck pain, and why it is a topic that warrants attention. (Published May 2019).

Read the essay

Challenges and opportunities: An essay bringing together the insights generated from a number of collaborative research activities with Lab participants, outlining the challenges and impact of this topic and opportunities for improving care. (Published May 2019)

Read the essay

Practical ideas for improving care: An interactive guide to support practitioners to improve services for people living with both mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain. It includes common problems, potential solutions, ideas for overcoming barriers and examples to learn from. (Published November 2019)

Download the interactive guide

Service principles: A set of principles that describe what matters to people living with both conditions, which can be used to inform decisions about improving, designing or commissioning services. (Published November 2019)

Download the service principles

Developing and testing ideas

From March until September 2019, Q Lab UK and Mind worked with five organisations – ‘test teams’ – to generate and test ideas in practice to improve care for people with mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain. The ‘testing’ phase was an opportunity to apply what had been learned through the collaborative research and turn it into practical actions to improve care and services.

The teams

The approach

Q Lab UK supported teams to work through a structured and creative process, to develop, prototype and test ideas and solutions over a 6 month period. Based on the ‘triple diamond’ design process, the approach allowed teams to follow the same process but take different paths, depending on their own contexts.

Q Lab and Mind February workshop (Photo by Alastair Fyfe)

Supporting the test teams

In November 2019, Q Lab UK awarded four teams grant funding from the Health Foundation and NHS England/Improvement to take their work forward. The funding will enable teams to continue their testing journeys and progress projects from ideas to practice. It will also give potential for individual projects to grow beyond the local context and spread, or be scaled in the future.

We will be posting updates and progress from the teams on the Q website as their work continues over the next year.

Stay in touch

Join the online group to connected with Q members and others who have either worked on, or are interested in, mental health and persistent pain.