Contemporary perceptions and meanings of 'the medical model' amongst NHS mental health inpatient clinicians

Georgina L Barnes, Maryam Z Haghiran, Derek K Tracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Debates within health care and public spheres have, at times, created a seeming 'divide' between biological and psychosocial determinants and management of mental health difficulties. The phrase 'medical model' is often held up as an example and is sometimes used pejoratively to infer over-reliance on biology and medication. Our objective was to explore inpatient mental health clinicians' perceptions of the definition and the application of a 'medical model' in contemporary mental health care. In this qualitative study, eighteen clinicians working in adult inpatient teams participated in three mixed focus groups. Data were analysed using framework analysis. Three core themes were identified: (i) power of a 'medical model' and authority of the medic; (ii) responsibility within, and reliance on, a 'medical model'; and (iii) integrated models of contemporary mental health care. Subthemes arose around organisational culture and low resources affecting the power of a 'medical model' and the value of multidisciplinary and person-centred approaches. The findings highlight the importance of recognising inter-professional dynamics and power gradients in mental health teams and organisations, as we begin to move towards more integrated models of collaboration and distributed leadership within the NHS. [Abstract copyright: © 2022 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of mental health nursing
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • psychiatry
  • inpatient
  • philosophy of mental health
  • nursing
  • qualitative


Dive into the research topics of 'Contemporary perceptions and meanings of 'the medical model' amongst NHS mental health inpatient clinicians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this