Effects of a Peer-Run Course on Recovery From Serious Mental Illness: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Scientific Center for Care and Welfare, Department of Tranzo, Tilburg University, the Netherlands.
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) (Impact Factor: 2.41). 01/2012; 63(1):54-60. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


Research on the effectiveness of peer-run services on the recovery of people with major psychiatric problems has been limited and poorly controlled. This study evaluated the effects of a 12-week peer-run course on recovery, "Recovery Is Up to You."
Recruitment of people with major psychiatric problems took place in the Netherlands between 2006 and 2008, and the effects of the peer-run intervention were evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. A total of 333 people were randomly assigned to the experimental (N=168) or control (N=165) condition. Self-report instruments used were the Herth Hope Index, the Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life, the Mental Health Confidence Scale, the Dutch Empowerment Scale, and the Loneliness Scale. Assessments took place at baseline, after three months (at the end of the course), and after six months. Data were analyzed by using linear mixed modeling.
The intervention had a significant and positive effect on empowerment, hope, and self-efficacy beliefs but not on quality of life and loneliness. The effects of the intervention persisted three months after participants completed the course.
The results suggest that the peer-run course contributed to improvement in important domains of recovery. Peer-run services, such as "Recovery Is Up to You," add value to recovery-oriented mental health care because they offer participants an opportunity to make an active start on their recovery.

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    • "We attempted to distinguish different types of peer support using an existing typology, but programmes varied in content, target client group, group or individual delivery, face-to-face or internet-based delivery, degree of support from local mental health services, and extent of provider training. Among the studies of peer-delivered services included in our review, some were comparatively brief, structured self-management focused programmes [27,37,39,45,46,50] and others were longer-term and less structured [38,41,44,48]. This distinction might be helpfully reflected in future typologies. "
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about whether peer support improves outcomes for people with severe mental illness. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. Cochrane CENTRAL Register, Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and CINAHL were searched to July 2013 without restriction by publication status. Randomised trials of non-residential peer support interventions were included. Trial interventions were categorised and analysed separately as: mutual peer support, peer support services, or peer delivered mental health services. Meta-analyses were performed where possible, and studies were assessed for bias and the quality of evidence described. Eighteen trials including 5597 participants were included. These comprised four trials of mutual support programmes, eleven trials of peer support services, and three trials of peer-delivered services. There was substantial variation between trials in participants' characteristics and programme content. Outcomes were incompletely reported; there was high risk of bias. From small numbers of studies in the analyses it was possible to conduct, there was little or no evidence that peer support was associated with positive effects on hospitalisation, overall symptoms or satisfaction with services. There was some evidence that peer support was associated with positive effects on measures of hope, recovery and empowerment at and beyond the end of the intervention, although this was not consistent within or across different types of peer support. Despite the promotion and uptake of peer support internationally, there is little evidence from current trials about the effects of peer support for people with severe mental illness. Although there are few positive findings, this review has important implications for policy and practice: current evidence does not support recommendations or mandatory requirements from policy makers for mental health services to provide peer support programmes. Further peer support programmes should be implemented within the context of high quality research projects wherever possible. Deficiencies in the conduct and reporting of existing trials exemplify difficulties in the evaluation of complex interventions.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · BMC Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: In mental health services, the past several decades has seen a slow but steady trend towards employment of past or present consumers of the service to work alongside mental health professionals in providing services. However the effects of this employment on clients (service recipients) and services has remained unclear.We conducted a systematic review of randomised trials assessing the effects of employing consumers of mental health services as providers of statutory mental health services to clients. In this review this role is called 'consumer-provider' and the term 'statutory mental health services' refers to public services, those required by statute or law, or public services involving statutory duties. The consumer-provider's role can encompass peer support, coaching, advocacy, case management or outreach, crisis worker or assertive community treatment worker, or providing social support programmes. To assess the effects of employing current or past adult consumers of mental health services as providers of statutory mental health services. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 3), MEDLINE (OvidSP) (1950 to March 2012), EMBASE (OvidSP) (1988 to March 2012), PsycINFO (OvidSP) (1806 to March 2012), CINAHL (EBSCOhost) (1981 to March 2009), Current Contents (OvidSP) (1993 to March 2012), and reference lists of relevant articles. Randomised controlled trials of current or past consumers of mental health services employed as providers ('consumer-providers') in statutory mental health services, comparing either: 1) consumers versus professionals employed to do the same role within a mental health service, or 2) mental health services with and without consumer-providers as an adjunct to the service. Two review authors independently selected studies and extracted data. We contacted trialists for additional information. We conducted analyses using a random-effects model, pooling studies that measured the same outcome to provide a summary estimate of the effect across studies. We describe findings for each outcome in the text of the review with considerations of the potential impact of bias and the clinical importance of results, with input from a clinical expert. We included 11 randomised controlled trials involving 2796 people. The quality of these studies was moderate to low, with most of the studies at unclear risk of bias in terms of random sequence generation and allocation concealment, and high risk of bias for blinded outcome assessment and selective outcome reporting.Five trials involving 581 people compared consumer-providers to professionals in similar roles within mental health services (case management roles (4 trials), facilitating group therapy (1 trial)). There were no significant differences in client quality of life (mean difference (MD) -0.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.80 to 0.20); depression (data not pooled), general mental health symptoms (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.24, 95% CI -0.52 to 0.05); client satisfaction with treatment (SMD -0.22, 95% CI -0.69 to 0.25), client or professional ratings of client-manager relationship; use of mental health services, hospital admissions and length of stay; or attrition (risk ratio 0.80, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.09) between mental health teams involving consumer-providers or professional staff in similar roles.There was a small reduction in crisis and emergency service use for clients receiving care involving consumer-providers (SMD -0.34 (95%CI -0.60 to -0.07). Past or present consumers who provided mental health services did so differently than professionals; they spent more time face-to-face with clients, and less time in the office, on the telephone, with clients' friends and family, or at provider agencies.Six trials involving 2215 people compared mental health services with or without the addition of consumer-providers. There were no significant differences in psychosocial outcomes (quality of life, empowerment, function, social relations), client satisfaction with service provision (SMD 0.76, 95% CI -0.59 to 2.10) and with staff (SMD 0.18, 95% CI -0.43 to 0.79), attendance rates (SMD 0.52 (95% CI -0.07 to 1.11), hospital admissions and length of stay, or attrition (risk ratio 1.29, 95% CI 0.72 to 2.31) between groups with consumer-providers as an adjunct to professional-led care and those receiving usual care from health professionals alone. One study found a small difference favouring the intervention group for both client and staff ratings of clients' needs having been met, although detection bias may have affected the latter. None of the six studies in this comparison reported client mental health outcomes.No studies in either comparison group reported data on adverse outcomes for clients, or the financial costs of service provision. Involving consumer-providers in mental health teams results in psychosocial, mental health symptom and service use outcomes for clients that were no better or worse than those achieved by professionals employed in similar roles, particularly for case management services.There is low quality evidence that involving consumer-providers in mental health teams results in a small reduction in clients' use of crisis or emergency services. The nature of the consumer-providers' involvement differs compared to professionals, as do the resources required to support their involvement. The overall quality of the evidence is moderate to low. There is no evidence of harm associated with involving consumer-providers in mental health teams.Future randomised controlled trials of consumer-providers in mental health services should minimise bias through the use of adequate randomisation and concealment of allocation, blinding of outcome assessment where possible, the comprehensive reporting of outcome data, and the avoidance of contamination between treatment groups. Researchers should adhere to SPIRIT and CONSORT reporting standards for clinical trials.Future trials should further evaluate standardised measures of clients' mental health, adverse outcomes for clients, the potential benefits and harms to the consumer-providers themselves (including need to return to treatment), and the financial costs of the intervention. They should utilise consistent, validated measurement tools and include a clear description of the consumer-provider role (eg specific tasks, responsibilities and expected deliverables of the role) and relevant training for the role so that it can be readily implemented. The weight of evidence being strongly based in the United States, future research should be located in diverse settings including in low- and middle-income countries.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Individuals with psychiatric disabilities have low rates of employment and occupational rehabilitation success. Mental health peer services are a new occupational modality that opened a promising occupational path: persons with serious mental illnesses employed to provide support to others with psychiatric conditions. However challenges to successful peer work exist. Work motivation is central to understanding and supporting peer workers, yet little is known about sources of motivation to work as mental health peer providers. The aim of this study was to identify what drives individuals to mental health peer work using self determination theory (SDT). Methods: Motivations of 31 mental health peer workers were explored as part of a larger study. A theory driven approach was employed to emerging qualitative data using SDT concepts: external motivation and internally regulated motivations derived from basic needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness). Results: External motivations included generic occupational goals and getting away from negative work experiences. Internal motivations corresponded with SDT basic needs: autonomy met-needs was reflected in having freedom to disclose and finding that work accords with personal values; competence met-needs was reflected in using personal experience as a resource to help others; and relatedness met-needs were reflected in having opportunity to connect intimately and reciprocate with consumers. Conclusion: This study identified external and internal motivations of persons with psychiatric disabilities to work as peer providers-a novel occupation in mental health. Employing personal experience and enabling peer contact emerge as major motivational tenets of mental health peer work. According to SDT instrumental occupational goals are considered more external than satisfaction of basic psychological needs. The study demonstrates the applicability of SDT in the design of autonomy supported environments to promote work engagement and sustenance of mental health peer providers.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
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