Effects of a peer-run course on recovery from serious mental illness: a randomized controlled trial

Hanneke van Gestel-Timmermans, Evelien P M Brouwers, Marcel A L M van Assen, Chijs van Nieuwenhuizen
Psychiatric Services: a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association 2012, 63 (1): 54-60

OBJECTIVE: 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."

METHODS: 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.

RESULTS: 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.

CONCLUSIONS: 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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