Recovery Colleges Characterisation and Testing in England (RECOLLECT): rationale and protocol

Daniel Hayes, Claire Henderson, Ioannis Bakolis, Vanessa Lawrence, Rachel A Elliott, Amy Ronaldson, Gabrielle Richards, Julie Repper, Peter Bates, John Brewin, Sara Meddings, Gary Winship, Simon Bishop, Richard Emsley, Daniel Elton, Rebecca McNaughton, Rob Whitley, David Smelson, Katy Stepanian, Merly McPhilbinDanielle Dunnett, Holly Hunter-Brown, Caroline Yeo, Tesnime Jebara, Mike Slade

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Recovery Colleges are a relatively recent initiative within mental health services. The first opened in 2009 in London and since then numbers have grown. They are based on principles of personal recovery in mental health, co-production between people with lived experience of mental health problems and professionals, and adult learning. Student eligibility criteria vary, but all serve people who use mental health services, with empirical evidence of benefit. Previously we developed a Recovery College fidelity measure and a preliminary change model identifying the mechanisms of action and outcomes for this group, which we refer to as service user students. The Recovery Colleges Characterisation and Testing (RECOLLECT) study is a five-year (2020–2025) programme of research in England. The aim of RECOLLECT is to determine Recovery Colleges’ effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, and identify organisational influences on fidelity and improvements in mental health outcomes.

RECOLLECT comprises i) a national survey of Recovery Colleges, ii) a prospective cohort study to establish the relationship between fidelity, mechanisms of action and psychosocial outcomes, iii) a prospective cohort study to investigate effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, iv) a retrospective cohort study to determine the relationship between Recovery College use and outcomes and mental health service use, and v) organisational case studies to establish the contextual and organisational factors influencing fidelity and outcomes. The programme has been developed with input from individuals who have lived experience of mental health problems. A Lived Experience Advisory Panel will provide input into all stages of the research.

RECOLLECT will provide the first rigorous evidence on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Recovery Colleges in England, to inform their prioritising, commissioning, and running. The validated RECOLLECT multilevel change model will confirm the active components of Recovery Colleges. The fidelity measure and evidence about the fidelity-outcome relationship will provide an empirically-based approach to develop Recovery Colleges, to maximise benefits for students. Findings will be disseminated through the study website ( and via national and international Recovery College networks to maximise impact, and will shape policy on how Recovery Colleges can help those with mental health problems lead empowered, meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number627
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Early online date24 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Sept 2022


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