A Pilot Test of a Peer Navigator Intervention for Improving the Health of Individuals with Serious Mental Illness



Erin Kelly, Anthony Fulginiti, Rohini Pahwa, Louise Tallen, Lei Duan, John S. Brekke

Community Mental Health Journal

May 2014, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 435-446






Individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) are at considerably higher risk for morbidity and mortality than those in the general population. The current pilot trial is a preliminary examination of a peer health navigation intervention for improving health and healthcare utilization called the Bridge. Twenty-four individuals with SMI were randomly assigned to either peer navigation or treatment as usual (TAU). Navigators encouraged development of self-management of healthcare through a series of psychoeducation and behavioral strategies. Outcomes included a range of health consequences, as well as health utilization indices. After 6 months, compared to the TAU group, participants receiving the intervention experienced fewer pain and health symptoms. Participants changed their orientation about seeking care to a primary care provider (44.4 % vs. 83.3 %, χ2 = 3.50, p < .05) rather than the emergency room (55.6 % vs. 0 %, χ2 = 8.75, p < .01). Therefore, the Bridge intervention demonstrated considerable promise through positively impacting health and healthcare utilization.