Abstract: The Role of Peer Support in Recovery from Mental Illness: An Evaluation Study (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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474P The Role of Peer Support in Recovery from Mental Illness: An Evaluation Study

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Reuben Addo, Phd, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fresno
Eleanor Ginder, Student, University of Southern Maine
Background: Although the number of intensive peer support programs has increased in the last two decades, very few studies have examined intensive peer support and recovery programs. Additionally, there are inconsistencies in the literature on the role that peer support plays in recovery from mental illness among consumers in intensive peer support programs. While some studies have examined the effectiveness of intensive peer support programs, no current study has examined the theoretical assumptions of peer support and recovery programs. Peer support programs are anchored in social support, which has been found to be associated with recovery from mental illness. Based on the literature on social support, we examined the role peer support plays between mental illness and recovery. We examined the following hypotheses: 1) peer support would be positively associated with recovery 2) mental illness would be negatively associated with recovery 3) there would be an interaction between mental illness and peer support predicting recovery.

Method: The sample consisted of 65 adults recruited from a drop-in peer support and recovery program. The outcome measure recovery was measured using the Recovery Assessment Scale – Domains and Stages (RAS-DS), a 38-item self-report measure of recovery in four domains: functional recovery; personal recovery; clinical recovery; and social recovery (a coefficient alpha of .95 was found for the total scale).The moderator variable peer support was assessed with 6 items (coefficient alpha of .73). Peer support items included 1) would peer support person go to the doctor with you 2) would you talk to peer support person about family problems. The predictor variable mental illness was assessed using the modified Colorado Symptom Inventory (coefficient alpha .93). Covariates included demographic variables on participants’ gender, race, and homeless status. Bivariate correlations were examined among variables. Hayes’ PROCESS macro for SPSS was used to test the interaction of mental illness and peer support predicting recovery.

Results: The regression model predicted 20% of the variance in recovery, F (6, 2.36) =2.36, p=.04. In contrast with the hypothesis, there was a statistically significant negative association between peer support and recovery, b= -28.30, 95% CI [-48.13, -8.47], t= -2.86, p= 0.006. Mental illness was also statistically negatively associated with recovery, b= -1.75, 95% CI [-3.03, -0.46], t= -2.71, p= 0.009. However, the interaction of mental illness and peer support on recovery was statistically positively related, b= 0.68, 95% CI [0.12, 1.23], t= 2.4 p= 0.017.

Conclusion and Implications: This study shows peer support plays an important role in recovery for individuals with mental illness. The provision of peer support services may improve recovery outcomes. Thus, this study suggests peer support programs offer a viable alternative to professional interventions on recovery from mental illness.