Former Patients Give Mental Health Clients a Boost

Rebecca Voelker
JAMA. 1994;272(22):1726-1727. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520220020019.
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AT THE Bronx Psychiatric Center in New York, peer pressure isn't necessarily discouraged.

In fact, patients treated for schizophrenia, substance abuse, and other mental health conditions posted better outcomes after participating in a demonstration program that incorporated former psychiatric patients, known as "peer specialists," as members of case management teams.

"This turned out to be a more interesting and complex story than most of us originally anticipated," said David Shern, PhD, director of evaluation and services research at the State of New York Office of Mental Health in Albany. Shern's colleagues presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

Is Experience the Best Teacher?  The program in New York is one in a growing number of studies attempting to gauge the impact of former patients working as adjuncts to mental health professionals, said Chip Felton, MSW, the study's principal data analyst and a research scientist


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