“Very much evolving”: a qualitative study of the views of psychiatrists about Peer Support Workers

Rachael Collins, Lucy Firth, Thomas Shakespeare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Mental health services continue to develop service user involvement, including a growth in employment of Peer support workers (PSWs). Despite the importance of the views and attitudes expressed by psychiatrists, this topic has not previously been studied.
Aims: To gain insight into the views and attitudes psychiatrists have about peer support workers.
Methods: A qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews with 11 psychiatrists in the East of England.
Results: Psychiatrists were broadly positive and supportive of PSWs. Interviewees could anticipate a range of possible benefits of employing PSWs, but also had concerns regarding their implementation and management. There was a lack of clarity and consistency between interviewees about what the exact role of a PSW might involve.
Conclusion: This study provides insights into how PSWs are perceived by psychiatrists. While broadly positive attitudes exist, the research highlights certain challenges, particularly role ambiguity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-283
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number3
Early online date11 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Consumer participation
  • peer support workers
  • attitudes
  • psychiatrists

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