National Survey on Implementation of Peer Specialists in the VA

Implications for Training and Facilitation

Published in: Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, v. 35, no. 6, Dec. 2012, p. 470-473

Posted on RAND.org on December 01, 2012

by Matthew Chinman, Mark Salzer, Dan O'Brien-Mazza

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OBJECTIVES: Peer support is fundamental to the promotion of recovery as indicated in the President's New Freedom Commission Report. Five years into the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) initiative to hire Peer Specialists (PSs)-individuals with serious mental illnesses assigned to clinical teams to support others with serious mental illnesses-this study explored challenges, facilitators, and progress of PS implementation from a stakeholder group involved in their management. METHODS: Ninety-two VA Local Recovery Coordinators (LRCs) from across the nationwide VA mental health system were surveyed about their perceptions about PS hiring, status of implementation, impact, barriers and facilitators to successful employment of PSs, and willingness to support implementation. RESULTS: The data suggest that PS implementation is going well overall, but challenges remain such as hiring delays, lack of understanding about the PS role, and lack of funding. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Implementation challenges can undermine the employment of PSs. The VA and other organizations using PSs could improve implementation by monitoring the challenges and proactively facilitating the process on an ongoing basis.

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