Outcome of a randomized study of a mental health peer education and support group in the VA

Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Dec;63(12):1243-6. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100348.


Objectives: Study objectives were to compare mental health outcomes of a peer-led recovery group, a clinician-led recovery group, and usual treatment and to examine the effect of group attendance on outcomes.

Methods: The study used a randomized design with three groups: a recovery-oriented peer-led group (Vet-to-Vet), a clinician-led recovery group, and usual treatment. The sample included 240 veterans. Recovery and mental health assessments were obtained at enrollment and three months later. Intention-to-treat analysis using mixed-model regression was performed to examine the effect of the intervention. "As treated" analysis was performed to examine the effect of group attendance.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences in improvement among the groups. Across groups, depression and functioning, psychotic symptoms, and overall mental health improved significantly. Better group attendance was associated with more improvement.

Conclusions: This study adds to the evidence suggesting no short-term incremental benefit (or harm) from peer services beyond usual care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / education*
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group*
  • Self-Help Groups / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*
  • Veterans / education*