The use of peer mentors to enhance a smoking cessation intervention for persons with serious mental illnesses

Faith B. Dickerson, Christina L.G. Savage, Lucy A.B. Schweinfurth, Deborah R. Medoff, Richard W. Goldberg, Melanie Bennett, Alicia Lucksted, Matthew Chinman, Gail Daumit, Lisa Dixon, Carlo DiClemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We evaluated a well-specified peer mentor program that enhanced a professionally led smoking cessation group for persons with serious mental illnesses. Method: Participants were 8 peer mentors, persons with serious mental illnesses who had successfully quit smoking, and 30 program participants, persons with serious mental illnesses enrolled in a 6-month intervention. Peer mentors were trained and then helped to deliver a smoking cessation group and met with program participants individually. We assessed the mentorsa skills after training, their fidelity to the model, and the programas feasibility and acceptability. We also measured the smoking outcomes of the program participants including change in exhaled carbon monoxide, a measure of recent smoking, and aspects of the peer mentor-program participant relationship. Results: Peer mentors attained a mean score of 13.6/14 on role play assessments after training and delivered the intervention with fidelity as assessed by adherence and competence ratings (mean scores of 97% and 93%, respectively). The feasibility and acceptability of the intervention was demonstrated in that 28/30 participants met with their peer mentors regularly and only 1 participant and no peer mentor discontinued in the study. Both parties rated the interpersonal alliance highly, mean of 5.9/7. The program participants had a decline in carbon monoxide levels and number of cigarettes smoked per day (repeated measures ANOVA F = 6.04, p =.008; F = 15.87, p <.001, respectively). A total of 22/30 (73%) made a quit attempt but only 3 (10%) achieved sustained abstinence. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Our study adds to the growing literature about peer-delivered interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatric Rehabilitation Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Peer support
  • Recovery
  • Serious mental illnesses
  • Smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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