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

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


Objective: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Counseling
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Self Care*
  • Social Support*
  • Telephone
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs


  • Antidepressive Agents