Explication and Definition of Mental Health Recovery: A Systematic Review

  • Marsha Langer EllisonEmail author
  • Lindsay K. Belanger
  • Barbara L. Niles
  • Leigh C. Evans
  • Mark S. Bauer
Original Article


This review assessed the concordance of the literature on recovery with the definition and components of recovery developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Each SAMHSA identified recovery component was first explicated with synonyms and keywords and made mutually exclusive by authors. Inter-rater reliability was established on the coding of the presence of 17 recovery components and dimensions in 67 literature reviews on the recovery concept in mental health. The review indicated that concordance varied across SAMHSA components. The components of recovery with greatest concordance were: individualized/person centered, empowerment, purpose, and hope.


Recovery Systematic review Mental health Mental illness 



Elaine Alligood provided much appreciated library support services. This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development (Grant# CIN 14–234). The authors are solely responsible for the contents of the manuscript and the contents do not represent official views of the US Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Authors Ellison, Belanger, Niles, Evans and Bauer declare that he/she have no conflicts of interest with this paper.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any study with human participants performed by any of the authors.


References marked with an asterisk indicate the studies were selected for analysis

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marsha Langer Ellison
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Lindsay K. Belanger
    • 2
  • Barbara L. Niles
    • 3
  • Leigh C. Evans
    • 2
    • 5
  • Mark S. Bauer
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation ResearchEdith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans HospitalBedfordUSA
  2. 2.Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation ResearchVA Boston Healthcare SystemBostonUSA
  3. 3.National Center for PTSD Behavioral Science DivisionVA Boston Healthcare SystemBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  5. 5.School of Public HealthBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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