Do Peer Recovery Specialists Improve Outcomes for Individuals with Substance Use Disorder in an Integrative Primary Care Setting? A Program Evaluation

  • Travis A. CosEmail author
  • Archana Bodas LaPollo
  • Mara Aussendorf
  • Jason M. Williams
  • Kimberly Malayter
  • David S. Festinger


Peer recovery specialists (PRSs) combine their personal experiences with substance use and recovery with clinical skills to support patients in treatment for or recovery from substance use. This paper provides evaluation findings from a SAMHSA-funded program that integrated a PRS team into a primary care clinic to assess the efficacy of PRS support on patients’ substance use, healthcare involvement, and criminal justice involvement. PRSs provided a range of services to patients with histories of incarceration and substance use, including facilitating support groups, providing one-on-one individualized support, and navigating services. Data were collected from PRS-supported patients at intake, discharge, and 6 months post-intake. Results revealed reductions in the percentage of patients using substances in the past 30 days, decreased number of days using alcohol, increased engagement in more medical services after program enrollment, increased school enrollment, and increased rates of employment for PRS-supported patients.


Peer recovery specialists Evaluation Integrated primary care Substance use recovery 



We would like to acknowledge the dedicated service of Virginia Vitella, Jose DeLeon, and Christina Collins. Their efforts in the service of their community and the program evaluation was of the highest compassion, caliber, and dedication.


Funding was provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (Grant No. 1H79TI026201).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Travis A. Cos, Archana Bodas LaPollo, Mara Aussendorf, Jason M. Williams, Kimberly Malayter and David S. Festinger declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Health Management Corporation, Research & Evaluation GroupPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Public Health Management Corporation, Specialized Health ServicesPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.MerakeyErdenheimUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyPhiladelphia College of Osteopathic MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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