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A Cluster Randomized Trial of Adding Peer Specialists to Intensive Case Management Teams in the Veterans Health Administration

An Erratum to this article was published on 12 November 2013


Use of peer specialists (PSs)—individuals with serious mental illness who use their experiences to help others with serious mental illness—is increasing. However, their impact on patient outcomes has not been demonstrated definitively. This cluster randomized, controlled trial within the Veterans Health Administration compared patients served by three intensive case management teams that each deployed two PSs for 1 year, to the patients of three similar teams without PSs (Usual Care). All patients (PS group = 149, Usual Care = 133) had substantial psychiatric inpatient histories and a primary Axis 1 psychiatric disorder. Before and after the year PSs worked, patients were surveyed on their recovery, quality of life, activation (health self-management efficacy), interpersonal relations, and symptoms. Patients in the PS group improved significantly more (z = 2.00, df = 1, p = 0.05) than those receiving Usual Care on activation. There were no other significant differences. PSs helped patients become more active in treatment, which can promote recovery.

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Financial support for the paper was provided by a grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Health Services Research and Development, PEers Enhancing Recovery (PEER, IIR 06–227). All authors do not have any conflict of interests to report. The contents do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the US Government. Dr. Chinman had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

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All the authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Correspondence to Matthew Chinman PhD.

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Chinman, M., Oberman, R.S., Hanusa, B.H. et al. A Cluster Randomized Trial of Adding Peer Specialists to Intensive Case Management Teams in the Veterans Health Administration. J Behav Health Serv Res 42, 109–121 (2015).

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  • Veteran Health Administration
  • Assertive Community Treatment
  • Usual Care Group
  • Serious Mental Illness
  • Assertive Community Treatment Team