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

Hayes, D., Henderson, C., Bakolis, I. , Lawrence, V., Elliott, R. A., Ronaldson, A., Richards, G., Repper, J., Bates, P., Brewin, J., Meddings, S., Winship, G., Bishop, S., Emsley, R., Elton, D., McNaughton, R., Whitley, R., Smelson, D., Stepanian, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-8460-1433, McPhilbin, M., Dunnett, D., Hunter-Brown, H., Yeo, C., Jebara, T. & Slade, M. (2022). Recovery Colleges Characterisation and Testing in England (RECOLLECT): rationale and protocol. BMC Psychiatry, 22, article number 627. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-04253-y


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.

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 The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Recovery College, Effectiveness, Cost-effectiveness, Outcomes, Mechanisms, Mental health, Recovery, Adult learning, Co-production, Fidelity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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