Launching an Evidence-Based Peer Recovery Program to Enhance Self Management Skills of Adults in Primary Care

 Colleen O’Brien

Depression and addiction correlate with poor overall health outcomes.  Outcomes improve when patients understand their condition and play an active role in their own recovery.  In 2016, CHA screened 45,000 adult primary care patients for these conditions, and identified more than 35% for follow up.   Challenges to care delivery in the conventional model, including initial engagement and retention, could be addressed by a peer recovery model.  Could providing readily-available peer support programming help bridge the gap between consumers and behavioral healthcare providers, and increase self management skills of adults?    This project trained 12 primary care mental health therapists in an internationally-adopted, evidence-based recovery model.   We then conducted a focus group to learn if the therapists, usually “experts” in mental illness, could embrace an approach that empowers patients and emphasizes lived-experience and learning from peers? Final outcomes measures will evaluate the impact of the groups on participant hopefulness, self-advocacy, and overall health status.   Lessons learned during the training and implementation process may be useful in training other healthcare professionals and advancing coproduction in healthcare.