Effectiveness of Peer-Delivered Center for Independent Living Supports for Individuals With Psychiatric Disabilities: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

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Objective: The goal of this study was to examine the effectiveness of peer-delivered core services of Centers for Independent Living (CILs), which include advocacy, information and referral, skills training, and peer support. Method: Ninety-nine individuals with a schizophrenia-spectrum or affective disorder who identified at least 3 needs were recruited from mental health centers and randomly assigned to be contacted by a certified peer specialist at a local CIL (CIL condition) or services as usual (SAU condition). Data on community participation, recovery, empowerment, quality of life, and needs were obtained at baseline and 6 and 12 months postbaseline, along with responses to open-ended questions about supports received. Results: Participation in CIL supports was very limited. No differences were found in repeated measures analyses (Time × Condition). Post hoc analyses did show some positive results for those in the CIL condition. More than half of CIL participants described obtaining a substantive support in at least 1 area, and almost half of these resulted in some tangible new resource. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Engagement in CIL supports was very limited, as were outcomes. Nonetheless, numerous examples of supports across a broad range of areas were reported along with examples of how needs were met. CIL supports, which are widely available around the United States, may offer a unique philosophy and approach for addressing the needs of individuals with psychiatric disabilities and are deserving of additional study.

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