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Evidence-based Recovery Colleges: developing a typology based on organisational characteristics, fidelity and funding

Hayes, D., Camacho, E. M., Ronaldson, A. , Stepanian, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-8460-1433, McPhilbin, M., Elliott, R. A., Repper, J., Bishop, S., Stergiopoulos, V., Brophy, L., Giles, K., Trickett, S., Lawrence, S., Winship, G., Meddings, S., Bakolis, I., Henderson, C. & Slade, M. (2023). Evidence-based Recovery Colleges: developing a typology based on organisational characteristics, fidelity and funding. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 59(5), pp. 759-768. doi: 10.1007/s00127-023-02452-w


Recovery Colleges (RCs) have been implemented across England with wide variation in organisational characteristics. The purpose of this study is to describe RCs across England in terms of organisational and student characteristics, fidelity and annual spending, to generate a RC typology based on characteristics and to explore the relationship between characteristics and fidelity.

All RC in England meeting criteria on recovery orientation, coproduction and adult learning were included. Managers completed a survey capturing characteristics, fidelity and budget. Hierarchical cluster analysis was conducted to identify common groupings and generate an RC typology.

Participants comprised 63 (72%) of 88 RC in England. Fidelity scores were high (median 11, IQR 9–13). Both NHS and strengths-focussed RCs were associated with higher fidelity. The median annual budget was £200,000 (IQR £127,000–£300,000) per RC. The median cost per student was £518 (IQR £275–£840), cost per course designed was £5,556 (IQR £3,000–£9,416) and per course run was £1,510 (IQR £682–£3,030). The total annual budget across England for RCs is an estimated £17.6 m including £13.4 m from NHS budgets, with 11,000 courses delivered to 45,500 students.

Although the majority of RCs had high levels of fidelity, there were sufficiently pronounced differences in other key characteristics to generate a typology of RCs. This typology might prove important for understanding student outcomes and how they are achieved and for commissioning decisions. Staffing and co-producing new courses are key drivers of spending. The estimated budget for RCs was less than 1% of NHS mental health spending.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Recovery College, Survey, Managers, England, Mental health services, Service costs
Subjects: L Education
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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