A Systematic Review of the Roles and Contributions of Peer Providers in the Behavioral Health Workforce

Maria G. Gaiser, Jessica L. Buche, Caitlyn C. Wayment, Victoria Schoebel, Judith E. Smith, Susan A. Chapman, Angela J. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context: Peer providers with lived experiences of mental health and substance use are a growing component of the workforce responsible for the prevention and treatment of behavioral health disorders. This systematic literature review aims to better define the roles of peers and their unique contributions to behavioral health care. Evidence acquisition: Researchers searched MEDLINE, CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central, and Scopus databases for studies published between January 1, 2013 and April 3, 2020. Studies were included if they (1) were experimental or observational studies, (2) included an adult population of people with a behavioral health disorder, and (3) used paid peer providers in addition to traditional behavioral health services. Researchers extracted sample demographics, intervention characteristics, outcome data, and significant associations from studies that met inclusion criteria and assessed the trends in these data in May 2020. Evidence synthesis: A total of 23 articles assessing peer-provided services were included. Peers were employed most frequently in mental healthcare roles in the Department of Veterans Affairs, hospital, and community health facilities. A total of 14 studies observed significant clinical improvements in participants’ social functioning, quality of life, patient activation, and behavioral health. A majority of studies involved the supervision of peers and required peers to have completed training in service delivery. Conclusions: Peers are effective providers of behavioral health treatment and relapse prevention services who encourage recovery through resilience building, empowerment, and self-advocacy. There remains a need for more evidence-based interventions on the efficacy of peers in substance use disorder treatment and the impact of formalized certification and training opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e203-e210
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Volume61
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclose receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, or publication of this article: support from the Health Resources and Services Administration of HHS as part of an award totaling $1.1 million.

Funding Information:
The contents of this review are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of nor are an endorsement by Health Resources and Services Administration, HHS, or the U.S. Government. This article builds on a review of literature assessing the effectiveness of peer support services conducted by Chinman et al. published in 2014: Chinman M, George P, Dougherty RH, et al. Peer support services for individuals with serious mental illnesses: assessing the evidence. Psychiatr Serv. 2014;65(4):429?441. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300244. The authors disclose receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, or publication of this article: support from the Health Resources and Services Administration of HHS as part of an award totaling $1.1 million. AJB, SAC, and JES conceptualized the study. MGG authored the first draft with contributions to Methods text by JES and to study tables by CCW. Taubman Health Sciences Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor provided the study team with DistillerSR licensure and guidance. VS and CCW conducted title/abstract screening, full-text review, and data extraction. MGG, CCW, and SAC assessed study quality. Copyeditor Sara Fischer edited the manuscript. All listed authors reviewed and revised this article before submitting it for publication. Sara Fischer provides copyediting services for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. No other financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this paper.The contents of this review are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of nor are an endorsement by Health Resources and Services Administration, HHS, or the U.S. Government. This article builds on a review of literature assessing the effectiveness of peer support services conducted by Chinman et al. published in 2014: Chinman M, George P, Dougherty RH, et al. Peer support services for individuals with serious mental illnesses: assessing the evidence. Psychiatr Serv. 2014;65(4):429?441. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300244. The authors disclose receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, or publication of this article: support from the Health Resources and Services Administration of HHS as part of an award totaling id="ack0001".1 million. AJB, SAC, and JES conceptualized the study. MGG authored the first draft with contributions to Methods text by JES and to study tables by CCW. Taubman Health Sciences Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor provided the study team with DistillerSR licensure and guidance. VS and CCW conducted title/abstract screening, full-text review, and data extraction. MGG, CCW, and SAC assessed study quality. Copyeditor Sara Fischer edited the manuscript. All listed authors reviewed and revised this article before submitting it for publication. Sara Fischer provides copyediting services for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. No other financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Journal of Preventive Medicine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

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