Background: Involving certified peer specialists in all phases of intervention development and research is a high priority to advance peer-delivered services. Certified peer specialists are individuals with a lived experience of a mental illness, and they are trained and accredited to provide Medicaid reimbursable mental health services. Community-engaged research can facilitate the development and implementation of peer-delivered interventions; however, little is known about the processes. We present our application of community-engaged research to inform the development and implementation of a peer-delivered mobile health (mHealth) intervention for adults with serious mental illness.
Objective: The aim of this study was to present a framework that can be used as a guide for researchers and certified peer specialists to develop and implement peer-delivered mHealth interventions in community settings.
Methods: Informed by principles of community-engaged research, we developed the Academic Researchers-Certified Peer Specialists mHealth Research Continuum. Principles of community-engaged research included in the Continuum include the following: (1) develop a clear understanding of the purpose, goal, and population involved in community change; (2) become knowledgeable about all aspects of the community; (3) interact and establish relationships with the community; (4) encourage community self-determination; (5) partner with the community; (6) respect community diversity and culture; (7) activate community assets and develop capacity; (8) maintain flexibility; and (9) commit to long-term collaboration.
Results: Overall, 4 certified peer specialists participated in all phases of intervention development and research. Individuals who participated in the Academic Researchers-Certified Peer Specialists' mHealth Research Continuum collaborated on 5 studies advancing peers' roles in services delivery using mHealth and secured grant funding from a foundation to sustain their study. The Academic Researchers-Certified Peer Specialists' mHealth Research Continuum has created a rare environment of inclusion by combining scientific expertise and certified peer specialists' expertise to achieve a shared vision.
Conclusions: This study delineates a process by which academic researchers and certified peer specialists participated in community-engaged research to develop and implement peer-delivered mHealth interventions in community settings.
Keywords: consumer advocacy; mental health; mobile health; patient participation; stakeholder participation.