Randomized controlled trial of peer-led recovery education using Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support (BRIDGES)

Judith A Cook, Pamela Steigman, Sue Pickett, Sita Diehl, Anthony Fox, Patricia Shipley, Rachel MacFarlane, Dennis D Grey, Jane K Burke-Miller
Schizophrenia Research 2012, 136 (1-3): 36-42

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of a peer-led, mental illness education intervention called Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support (BRIDGES).

METHOD: Subjects were recruited from outpatient community mental health settings in eight Tennessee communities. Using a single-blind, randomized controlled trial design, 428 individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) were interviewed at baseline and assigned to BRIDGES or to a services as usual wait list control condition. Two-and-one-half hour classes were taught once a week for 8 weeks by peers who were certified BRIDGES instructors. Subjects were followed-up at immediate post-intervention and 6-months later. The primary outcome was self-perceived recovery, measured by the Recovery Assessment Scale (RAS). A secondary outcome was hopefulness as assessed by the State Hope Scale (SHS). An exploratory hypothesis examined the impact of depressive symptoms on both recovery outcomes.

RESULTS: Eighty six percent of participants were followed up. On average, participants attended five sessions. Intent-to-treat analysis using mixed-effects random regression found that, compared to controls, intervention participants reported: 1) significantly greater improvement in total RAS scores as well as subscales measuring personal confidence and tolerable symptoms; and 2) significantly greater improvement in hopefulness as assessed by the agency subscale of the SHS. While study subjects with high levels of depressive symptoms had significantly poorer outcomes, outcomes were superior for BRIDGES participants regardless of depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Peer-led mental illness education improves participants' self-perceived recovery and hopefulness over time, even controlling for severity of depressive symptoms.

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