Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 52, Issue 7, pp 767–774 | Cite as

Peer Support Providers’ Role Experiences on Interprofessional Mental Health Care Teams: A Qualitative Study

Brief Report


This study explores how peer support providers’ roles are defined and integrated in inter-professional mental health care teams, and how these providers relate to other practitioners and clients. Interviews were conducted with peer support providers in two different formal models of peer support employment. Qualitative data analysis was undertaken. The findings indicate that: peer support providers experience ambiguity and that some ambiguity may offer benefits; peer support providers enhance team acceptance of their role through several means and strategies; setting boundaries with clients is a delicate issue that requires several considerations that we discuss.


Peer support Role Inter-professional teams Boundaries with clients 



This study was funded by Telfer School of Management Research Funds (SMRF Supervision/Research) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national 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.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Adame, A. L., & Leitner, L. M. (2008). Breaking out of the mainstream: The evolution of peer support alternatives to the mental health system. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 10(3), 146–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Besio, S. W., & Mahler, J. (1993). Benefits and challenges of using consumer staff in supported housing services. Hospital & Community Psychiatry, 44(5), 490–491.Google Scholar
  3. Campbell, J., & Leaver, J. (2003). Emerging new practices in organized peer support. National Technical Assistance Center for State Mental Health Planning and National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.Google Scholar
  4. Carlson, L. S., Rapp, C. A., & McDiarmid, D. (2001). Hiring consumer-providers: Barriers and alternative solutions. Community Mental Health Journal, 37(3), 199–213.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Chinman, M., Lucksted, A., Gresen, R., Davis, M., Losonczy, M., Sussner, B., & Martone, L. (2008). Early experience of employing consumer-providers in the VA. Psychiatric Services, 59(11), 1315–1321.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Chinman, M. J., Weingarten, R., Stayner, D., & Davidson, L. (2001). Chronicity reconsidered. Improving person environment fit through a consumer-run service. Community Mental Health Journal, 37(3), 215–229.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Corrigan, P. W., Sokol, K. A., & Rusch, N. (2013). The impact of self-stigma and mutual help programs on the quality of life of people with serious mental illnesses. Community Mental Health Journal, 49, 1–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Davidson, L., Bellamy, C., Kimberly, G., & Miller, R. (2012). Peer support among persons with severe mental illnesses: A review of evidence and experience. World Psychiatry, 11, 125–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davidson, L., Chinman, M., Sells, D., & Rowe, M. (2006). Peer support among adults with serious mental illness: A report from the field. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 32(3), 443–450.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Dixon, L., Hackman, A., & Lehman, A. (1997). Consumers as staff in assertive community treatment programs. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 25(2), 199–208.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dixon, L., Krauss, N., & Lehman, A. (1994). Consumers as service providers: The promise and challenge. Community Mental Health Journal, 30, 615–625.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gates, L. B., & Akabas, S. H. (2007). Developing strategies to integrate peer providers into staff of mental health agencies. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 34(3), 293–306.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gillard, S. G., Edwards, C., Gibson, S. L., Owen, K., & Wright, C. (2013). Introducing peer worker roles into UK mental health service teams: A qualitative analysis of the organizational benefits and challenges. BMC Health Services Research, 13, 188.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Jacobson, N., Trojanowski, L., & Dewa, C. (2012). What do peer support workers do? A job description. BMC Health Services Research, 12, 205.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Lammers, J., & Happell, B. (2003). Consumer participation in mental health services: Looking from a consumer perspective. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 10, 385–392.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2011). Designing qualitative research (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Mead, S., Hilton, D., & Curtis, L. (2001). Peer support: A theoretical perspective. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 25, 134–141.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mead, S., & MacNeil, C. (2006). Peer support: What makes it unique? International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 10(2), 29–37.Google Scholar
  21. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. MOHLTC (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care). (2005). Ontario Program Standards for ACT Teams.Google Scholar
  23. Moll, S., Holmes, J., Geronimo, J., & Sherman, D. (2009). Work transitions for peer support providers in traditional mental health programs: Unique challenges and opportunities. IOS Press, 33, 449–458.Google Scholar
  24. Moran, G. S., Russinova, Z., Gidugu, V., & Gagne, C. (2013). Challenges experienced by paid peer providers in mental health recovery: A qualitative study. Community Mental Health Journal, 49, 281–291.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Mowbray, C. T., Moxley, D. P., & Collins, M. E. (1998). Consumers as mental health providers: First-person accounts of benefits and limitations. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 25(4), 297–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. O’Hagan, M., Cyr, C., McKee, H., & Priest, R. for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2010). Making the case for peer support: Report to the Peer Support Project Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.Google Scholar
  27. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Silverstein, S., & Bellack, A. S. (2008). A scientific agenda for the concept of recovery as it applies to schizophrenia. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 1108–1124.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Stotland, N., Mattson, M., & Bergeson, S. (2008). The recovery concept: Clinician and consumer perspectives. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 14(suppl 2), 45–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Verhaeghe, M., Bracke, P., & Bruynooghe, K. (2008). Stigmatization and self-esteem of persons in recovery from mental illness: The role of peer support. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 54, 206–218.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Walker, G., & Bryant, W. (2013). Peer support in adult mental health services: A metasynthesis of qualitative findings. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 36(1), 28–34.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telfer School of ManagementUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations