Research & Program Areas

Peer-to-Peer Support Program

Peer-to-Peer Support interventions allow people living with chronic illnesses to share their experience, gain emotional support, and help one another problem solve barriers to self-management goals.  Peer support programs supported by CMCD often  combine group self-management training with patient-to-patient telephone support facilitated by a specialized telephonic platform. The calling platform we have developed allows patients to: (1) call their peer-support partner at no additional cost and without sharing identifying information; (2) have all patient-to-patient calls blocked if requested, or allow calls only at designated times; and (3) send and receive telephone messages with a care manager when questions or problems arise. Clinicians and health systems can monitor the frequency and timing of peer contact using a specially-designed website.

In studies with patients who have diabetes, heart failure, and depression, investigators have found that this calling system was easy for patients to use and facilitated patient support. Different versions of this tool for promoting peer support have been tailored for patients with a range of chronic medical and mental health disorders.

Current & Completed Peer-to-Peer Support Programs


PI: Marcia Valenstein, MD

A randomized controlled trial is investigating the effect of peer-to-peer support on depression-related health outcomes in veterans receiving mental health services at VA Medical Centers. The intervention is designed to reduce barriers to patient participation in mental health care, complement existing VA mental health services, be congruent with the VA Mental Health Strategic Plan, and be feasible in the VA and other health systems with limited resources. Learn more.


PI: Michele Heisler, MD, MPH

A randomized trial evaluated the impact of peer support on diabetes patients’ self-management behavior, glycemic control, and service use. The study showed that peer program participants experienced a significantly greater improvement in glycemic control than patients in the nurse care management (control) group. Learn more.

Heart Failure

PI: Michele Heisler, MD, MPH

Through funding from the National Institutes of Health, a translational research study of this specialized peer-support service was conducted among patients with heart failure who received care within the St. Joseph Mercy Health System in southeast Michigan. Learn more.


Depression, Diabetes, Heart Failure, Telephone, Veterans

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