There is a lack of literature evaluating the development and use of vignettes to explore contested constructs in qualitative health care research where a conventional interview schedule might impose assumptions on the data collected. We describe the development and validation of vignettes in a study exploring mental health worker and service user understandings of risk and recovery in U.K. mental health services. Focus groups with mental health workers and service users explored study questions from experiential perspectives. Themes identified in the groups were combined with existing empirical literature to develop a set of vignettes. Feedback focus groups were conducted to validate and amend the vignettes. Following use in research interviews, results suggested that the vignettes had successfully elicited data on issues of risk and recovery in mental health services. Further research using creative, comparative methods is needed to fully understand how vignettes can best be used in qualitative health care research.