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Reflecting on the use of freedom of information requests in mental health research
Freedom of information (FoI) legislation has been represented as a valuable but underused means of generating otherwise unavailable data from public authorities in health and social care research. This article complements extant literature on the use of FoI requests for research intended to inform health and social care policy and improve the quality of practice. Reflections are provided on challenges and ethical considerations, drawing on relevant literature and the authors’ experience undertaking studies addressing different topics in mental health and child welfare using FoI requests as the primary source of data collection. The recommendations are practically orientated and aimed primarily at social work and health and social care researchers who may have limited knowledge of how FoI requests might be utilised in their work but be curious about this method’s application.
Author affiliationSchool of media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester
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