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Psychiatr Serv. 2016 Feb;67(2):236-9. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2015 Sep 15.

Augmenting Ongoing Depression Care With a Mutual Peer Support Intervention Versus Self-Help Materials Alone: A Randomized Trial.

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Dr. Valenstein, Dr. Pfeiffer, Ms. Walters, and Dr. Kales are with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor (e-mail: ). They are also with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), VA Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor, where Ms. Brandfon, Ms. Ganoczy, Dr. Kim, Ms. Henry, Ms. Garcia, Ms. Risk, and Dr. Piette are affiliated. Dr. Kim is also affiliated with the Center for Statistical Consultation and Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Piette is also with the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, where Dr. Heisler is affiliated. Dr. Cohen is with the Department of Psychiatry, VA Medical Center, Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Benn-Burton is with the Department of Psychiatry, VA Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Carroll is with the Department of Psychiatry, VA Medical Center, Saginaw, Michigan.



Various models of peer support may be implemented in mental health settings. This randomized trial assessed the effectiveness of a telephone-delivered mutual peer support intervention.


A total of 443 patients receiving ongoing depression treatment from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were enrolled in either enhanced usual care (N=243) or the peer support intervention (N=200). Intent-to-treat analyses assessed outcomes at six months postenrollment, excluding 56 patients who experienced an unplanned telephone platform shutdown.


At baseline, patients had substantial depressive symptoms, functional limitations, and low quality of life. Both groups showed significant clinical improvements at six months, with no significant differences by group.


Telephone-delivered mutual peer support for patients with depression did not improve outcomes beyond those observed with enhanced usual care. Other peer support models, with more "professionalized" peers delivering a structured curriculum, may be more effective.

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