Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World



An In-Depth Look at Peer Support App Development, Part 1

Clayton Velicer, MPH

Previously on this blog we have provided updates on mobile apps that incorporate peer and social support. Now, with the increasing number of apps coming onto the market, more transparency on the development and testing process may raise confidence in the effectiveness of these apps and lead to better refinements.

A recent article by Al Ayuba and colleagues provides an in-depth description of the development of a persuasive social mHealth application called PersonA designed to monitor and motivate users to increase physical activity.

The social support components are a central part of the app design. Users can communicate and compare their performance with that of their peers. According to the authors, the social component is important because published literature indicates that social support has the capacity to increase physical activity or at a minimum, reduce program attrition.

In Part 1 of this 2-part blog, we will provide background information on…


Why Does Peer Support Work? Change Mechanisms Underlying Mental Health Peer Support

Huyen Vu, MSPH

Involving peer support workers in mental health services is an effective means to improve the recovery outcomes for people living with mental illness. Evidence from the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. suggests that by sharing their own experience of mental illness and supporting other patients in their own recovery journeys, peer workers can significantly improve treatment and recovery outcomes of people with psychiatric disability, and contributes to a substantial reduction in re-admission rates and bed days of mentally ill patients.

In the U.S., peer worker programs should grow in importance as the Affordable Care Act comes into effect. With an additional 8 million people eligible for Medicaid, and with the requirement to include mental health service coverage in all health plans, peer worker programs may be an effective strategy to alleviate the shortage of mental health professionals.

However, inclusion of the peer worker interventions as part of…

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