The Efficacy of MAP Peer Support

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After conducting hundreds of thousands of virtual peer support sessions, we believe sustained engagement leads to better outcomes for mental / behavioral health conditions and substance use disorders. During the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 has presented, supportive human connection that is accessible remotely is more important now than ever.

Expanding access to peer supports, people who have walked a mile in the shoes of those they support, is a great area of opportunity for many conditions. There is good evidence to support making peer support available for those who suffer from mental / behavioral health and / or substance use disorders.

Is Peer Recovery Support Effective?

Current research indicates there is moderate to strong evidence demonstrating the efficacy of peer services.

For Substance Use Disorders

In a systemic review of studies from 1995 – 2012, Reif, Braude, Lyman, Dougherty, Daniels, Ghose, Salim, and Delphin-Rittmon (2014) examined 11 studies on peers providing recovery support to those who suffered from severe substance use disorder or co-occurring disorders. The studies reviewed indicated moderate levels of evidence including “reduced relapse rates, increased treatment retention, improved relationships with treatment providers and supports, and increased satisfaction with overall treatment experience (p.853).”

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Bassuk, Hanson, Green, Richard, and Laudet (2016) also examined the literature on the effectiveness of peer recovery support services. Overall, these authors found, within 9 studies included as part of their review, there was compelling evidence that engaging in peer recovery support interventions was beneficial to patients and contributed to positive recovery outcomes.

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For Mental / Behavioral
Health Disorders

Chinman, et. al, (2015), conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial comparing patients with severe mental illnesses served by teams who employed a peer specialists and teams who did not within the Veteran’s Administration. They found that patients served by teams with a peer specialist significantly improved on measures of recovery, quality of life, coping, relationships, and mental health symptoms.

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Bellamy, Schmutte, and Davidson (2017) conducted their own review of 8 studies examining peer services for people suffering from mental health disorders. They found evidence that peer services have a positive effect on “levels of hope, empowerment, and quality of life (p.161). Further, peer support seems to impact the development of healthy coping, a healthier diet, and better communication with treating physicians.

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Recovery Support Within MAP

MAP’s own data illustrates the power of engaging people and families in recovery support remotely through video and telehealth models. MAP analyzed data from a sample of 7,169 members who were part of MAP’s recovery support program. At 30 days, 74% of members were engaged in the MAP program, 63% at 60 days, 57% at 90 days, and 40% at 12 months.

Remarkably, MAP program engagement rates were even higher for primary supports (e.g., family members) over the same time period; 92% at 90 days, 83% at 60 days, 73% at 90 days, and 52% at 12 months. These engagement rates are much higher than traditional models of post-treatment support and illustrate the effectiveness of MAP’s model to engage and assist members in maintaining their recovery.


Bassuk., E., Hanson, J., Green, R.N., Richard, M., & Llaudet, A. (2016). Peer delivered recovery support services for addictions in the United States: A systemic review. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 63, 109.

Bellamy, C., Schmutte, T., & Davidson, L. (2017). An update on the growing evidence of peer support. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 21(3), 161-167.

Chinman, M., George, P., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., Swift, A., & Delphin-¬‐Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Peer support-services for individuals with serious mental illnesses: Assessing the evidence. Psychiatric Services, 65, 429-¬441.

Chinman, M., Oberman, R. S., Hanusa, B. H., Cohen, A. N., Salyers, M. P., Twamley, E. W., & Young, A. S. (2015). A cluster randomized trial of adding peer specialists to intensive case management teams in the Veterans Health Administration. Journal of Behavioral Health Services Research, 42, 109-¬‐121.

Reif, S, Braude, L., Lyman, D.R., Dougherty, R., Daniels, A., Ghose, S.S., Salim, O., Delphin-Rittmon, M. (2014). Peer recovery support for individuals with substance use disorders: assessing the evidence. Psychiatric Services, 65 (7), 853-861.