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Peer support and peer-led family support for persons living with schizophrenia

Duckworth, Kennetha,b; Halpern, Lisac

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: May 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 216–221
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000051
SCHIZOPHRENIA AND RELATED DISORDERS: Edited by Lynn E. DeLisi and W. Wolfgang Fleischhacker

Purpose of review Peer support and peer-led family psychoeducation represent two distinct and complementary recovery-oriented models to support individuals who live with schizophrenia and their families, respectively. The goals of these models focus on improving knowledge, coping, self-care, social support, and self-management strategies. These models represent important capacity-building strategies for people who live with the illness and the people who love them. This brief article is intended to provide the practicing clinician, person living with schizophrenia, and policy maker with a working knowledge of the current state of the literature in these two related fields. Practitioners should consider these resources and integrate them into their care. A person living with schizophrenia could use this review to advocate for appropriate resources and to identify career opportunities. Policy makers could benefit from an understanding of the literature to mitigate financial and cultural barriers to adopting these practices.

Recent findings The last 5 years have seen a dramatic expansion of the application of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to give evidence to match the experience of people in these programs. The field has seen Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) named as evidence-based practice by the National Registry of Evidence-Based Practices. A RCT was also conducted for another peer-developed and led program called Building Recovery of Individual Dreams & Goals through Education & Support. Family to Family, the largest peer-led family psychoeducation course, was also found to have significant impact after the study and also 6 months later in RCT. Family to Family has also been named as an evidence-based practice.

Summary The field of people who are living well with schizophrenia working as resources and supports to others living with the illness is an idea that is growing momentum. This momentum has been matched by the RCT evidence. Peer support as a professional role has an emerging literature that needs to be grown. WRAP and National Alliance on Mental Illness's Family to Family program are evidence-based practices and widely available. Peer support and peer-led family support for persons living with schizophrenia is a nascent field with much potential.

aNational Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Arlington, Virginia

bDepartment of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

cVinfen, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Kenneth Duckworth, MD, NAMI, 3803N Fairfax Boulevard, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203, USA. E-mail: ken@nami.org

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins