Methods: A convenience sample of 645 peer support workers employed in a range of mental health treatment and recovery-oriented settings was recruited via membership listservs of the International Association of Peer Supporters (INAPS) and the Academy of Peer Services (APS). Snowball sampling within various peer support communities was also employed. Eligible participants were at least 18 years of age, currently employed for a minimum of six months in a setting that provides mental health treatment and/or recovery-oriented services and residing in one of the 50 states in the United States. Data from a self-administered, anonymous online survey which included sociodemographic, employment, and job satisfaction questions were analyzed using hierarchical linear regression. Measures: Job satisfaction, the primary dependent variable, was measured using the 32-item Indiana Job Satisfaction Survey. Predictor variables (co-worker support, perceived organizational support, supervisor support, and job empowerment) were measured using a variety of validated instruments.
Results: The main hypothesis was supported; co-worker support, perceived organizational support, supervisor support, and job empowerment explained 71% of the variance in overall job satisfaction [AdjR2=0.71, F (9, 271) =77.77, p<0.01], with age and status as a certified peer support worker significant contributors. Organizational support followed by job empowerment explained the most variance in overall job satisfaction. Having a supervisor with a peer support background was not significantly associated with respondents’ overall job satisfaction.
Implications: Managers and supervisors should develop and increase their familiarity with practices, principles, and roles of peer support workers. Factors impacting job satisfaction include role clarity, perceived value to the organization, autonomy, sense of purpose, and advancement. Organizations should be attuned to key issues, such as certification requirements for peer support workers and billing for these services, as well as demographic trends such as the significant number of older adults within the peer support workforce, and how to provide optimal supports for this population. Several recommendations for fostering organizational change and integration are provided.
Conclusion: As the peer support workforce continues to expand within mental health treatment and recovery-oriented service settings, as well as among a host of other practice settings, it will be crucial to strengthen organizational and empowerment supports to enhance and sustain a satisfied and effective peer support workforce.
Keywords: peer support, job satisfaction, recovery-oriented service settings, empowerment.