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Objective: In 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to state Medicaid directors outlining requirements for implementing peer-based recovery support services (P-BRSS) as a Medicaid-funded service. Since then, 30 states have implemented these services. Although the literature describing implementation of P-BRSS has identified the cooptation of peer support staff (PSS) as a barrier to the effective provision of P-BRSS, the evidence for it remains anecdotal. This study attempts to determine if the context of employment in either a treatment organization or peer organization affected cooptation.
Methods: We conducted a survey of PSS in the fall of 2013. In all, 92 of the 181 respondents were working as PSS at the time, 53 in treatment organizations. Chi-square analysis was used to determine if the context of employment had an effect on the cooptation of peer staff.
Results: Peer staff working in treatment organizations reported that they were supervised by treatment staff and participated in employment-related training to improve their skills at providing treatment services more frequently than their counterparts in peer organizations. Peer staff working in treatment organizations also participated in training and education to prepare for employment as treatment professionals more frequently than peer staff working in peer organizations.
Conclusions and implications for practice: Peer staff members working in treatment organizations are subject to processes of acculturation into professional cultures that peer staff working in peer organizations are not. Effective implementation of P-BRSS should include specific efforts to minimize the cooptation of peer staff.
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