A 2013 Cochrane Review of 11 randomized controlled trials concluded that service use outcomes for clients were no better or worse when mental health teams included consumer-providers compared to when they did not. A systematic review published a year later by Chinman et al. concluded that, with the exception of one reviewed study, adding peers to service teams and peers delivering curricula showed positive outcomes compared to use of professional staff only. Both noted the weak evidence and lack of methodological rigor in the studies included in the reviews. Lack of consistency in training requirements and role definition among peer providers make rigorous comparative effectiveness studies difficult to conduct.
This study, which began in Fall 2019 and is conducted jointly by the HWRCs at the University of Michigan and the University of California-San Francisco, has the following aims:
- assess the literature to better define worker roles across behavioral health settings;
- employ a quasi-experimental design to compare direct costs for behavioral health services in a sample of facilities with peers to facilities without peers; and 3) assess treatment outcomes or treatment adherence with and without peers.
Published literature primarily focuses on peer services to treat serious mental illness. This study will separately consider peer services in mental health treatment facilities and substance use treatment facilities.
Coming in 2021