Great expectations: views and perceptions of professionalism amongst mental health services staff, patients and carers

Lauren M E Aylott, Paul A Tiffin, Sally Brown, Gabrielle M Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Numerous studies have explored the concept of 'professionalism' in medicine, yet little attention has been paid to the concept in a mental health services context.

Aims: This study sought to determine how the lived experience of patients, carers and healthcare professionals in mental health services align with medically defined, generic, professionalism standards.

Method: Interviews and focus groups were conducted with patients, carers, nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists. A framework analysis approach was used to analyse the data, based on the 'Improving Selection to the Foundation Programmes' Professional Attributes Framework.

Results: Fifty-six individuals participated. Data aligned to all nine attributes of the Professional Attributes Framework, however the expectations within each attribute varied from that originally cited. A tenth attribute was devised during the process of analysis; Working with Carers. This attribute acknowledges the need to liaise with, and support carers in mental health services. Situational examples included both online and offline behaviours and the topic of 'black humour' emerged.

Conclusions: Compared to a conventional medical definition of professionalism, additional themes and differing emphases were observed for mental health and learning disability services. These findings should be used to inform the teaching and evaluation of professionalism, especially for staff pursuing mental health service careers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of mental health (Abingdon, England)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020


  • Professionalism
  • behaviours
  • carers
  • mental health
  • professional attributes
  • psychiatry
  • qualitative study
  • values
  • Caregivers
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Mental Health Services
  • Health Personnel


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