Peer support in mental health care: is it good value for money?

TRACHTENBERG Marija, et al
Centre for Mental Health
Publication year:
Place of publication:

Peer support workers - people with their own lived experience of mental illness - provide mutually supportive relationships in secondary mental health services. Increasing numbers are being employed, both in this country and elsewhere. This paper is a first attempt at assessing whether peer support provides value for money. Specifically, it looks at whether peer support workers can reduce psychiatric inpatient bed use, either by preventing admissions or by shortening lengths of stay. The authors searched the literature on peer support workers for studies with quantitative data on the relationship between the employment of peers and psychiatric hospital bed use. They used the Cochrane guidelines to assess these studies for risk of bias, and to determine their overall quality. Not all of the studies considered were randomised controlled trials. Eight studies were identified for analysis, of which six studes were identified as using peer support workers to provide "additional" services. This paper concentrates on analysing data in these six studies: five from the US and one from Australia. Notwithstanding limitations in the analysis, it finds that because of the very high cost of inpatient care, the savings that result from even small changes in bed use may be sufficient to outweigh the costs of employing peer workers. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
support groups, mental health care, literature reviews, peer groups, quantitative research, cost effectiveness, psychiatric care, peer support;
Content type:
research review
Register/Log in to view this resource

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to access resource links, advanced search and email alerts