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Psychiatr Serv. 2010 May;61(5):520-3. doi: 10.1176/

Certified peer specialist roles and activities: results from a national survey.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3535 Market St., 3rd Floor, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



In 2001 Georgia became the first state to allow services provided by certified peer specialists (CPSs) to be reimbursed by Medicaid. Six other states have since followed Georgia's lead, with many others in the process of doing so. This study examined where CPSs work and what they do.


CPSs (N=291) from 28 states completed an online survey.


CPSs primarily did their work within the agency rather than in the community and worked most often with individuals rather than groups. CPSs frequently provided peer support and focus on self-determination, health and wellness, hope, communication with providers, illness management, and stigma. They spent the least amount of time supporting people's family, parenting, dating, or spiritual relationships.


CPS work settings and modalities varied greatly, although a core set of activities was identified. Implications for developing and refining CPS roles in the system are discussed, along with suggestions for additional training and supervision.

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