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Abstract

The objective of this study was to evaluate the impacts of participation in mental health Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSIs), organizations run by and for people with mental illness. A nonequivalent comparison group design was used to compare three groups of participants: (a) those who were continually active in CSIs over a 36-month period (n = 25); (b) those who had been active in CSIs at 9- and 18-month follow-up periods, but who were no longer active at 36 months (n = 35); and (c) a comparison group of participants who were never active in CSIs (n = 42). Data were gathered at baseline, 9-, 18-, and 36-month follow-ups. The three groups were comparable at baseline on a wide range of demographic variables, self-reported psychiatric diagnosis, service use, and outcome measures. At 36 months, the continually active participants scored significantly higher than the other two groups of participants on community integration, quality of life (daily living activities), and instrumental role involvement, and significantly lower on symptom distress. No differences between the groups were found on other outcome measures. Improvements in 36-month outcomes for people with mental illness who participated in CSIs suggest the potential value of these peer support organizations. Further research is needed to determine the replicability of these positive findings. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comm Psychol 35: 655–665, 2007.