University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Psychiatry
Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy

National Research and Training Center (NRTC)


Effectiveness of Medicaid-Funded Certified Peer Specialist Services in the State of Georgia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

The purpose of this UIC NRTC research project is to evaluate the effectiveness of peer support services delivered by Georgia's Certified Peer Specialists (CPSs) ( at consumer-run Peer Support Centers. The study uses a randomized controlled trial design in which consenting individuals will be randomly assigned, with their permission, to one of 2 conditions. Those in the intervention condition will receive CPS services immediately. Those in the control condition would be guaranteed to receive CPS services at the end of the research phase of the project, 6 months later.

The "active ingredient" of peer support services consists of interpersonal interactions and activities that occur within Peer Support centers. These centers are directed by CPSs in ways that create a "therapeutic community" designed to assist participants with achieving individual treatment goals within a safe and consumer-friendly environment. CPSs complete a 9-day training totaling 40 hours of instruction. Certification is granted upon successful completion of an oral and written exam and signed acceptance of a Code of Ethics. CPSs must participate in continuing education administered by USPRA's Certified Practitioner of Rehabilitation Program ( and earn "contact hour" credit accrued though work with peers.

Interviews will be conducted with participants at 3 time points. Time 1 (T1) interviews will take place immediately after consent. Time 2 interviews (T2) will occur at 3 months and Time 3 (T3) interviews at 6 months post-baseline. Participants will receive monetary compensation for each interview they attempt. All interviews will be conducted via telephone using computer-assisted telephone interview technology. The study protocol includes measures of recovery, self-determination, well-being, hope, quality of life, recipient satisfaction, and service utilization. Other administrative data collected with study subjects' permission and through the cooperation of the state include services and cost data.

Participation in the study will be completely voluntary and will not influence other services received through the public mental health system. In addition, subjects would be free to withdraw from the research at any time without prejudice. The study will take place over a 3-year period, and will be guided by an advisory committee composed primarily of people in recovery (including CPSs), as well as state mental health administrators, researchers, service providers, family members, and other advocates.

The UIC CMHSRP is part of the ongoing Education and Research efforts of the UIC Department of Psychiatry

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