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From end user to provider: making sense of becoming a peer support worker using interpretative phenomenological analysis

Gemma Dyble (Clinical Psychologist, based at Inspire/Bump Start, Black Country Partnership NHS, Wolverhampton, UK)
Anna Tickle (Institute of Work Health & Organisations, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Christine Collinson (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 10 June 2014




There has been extensive growth in the employment of mental health peer support workers (PSWs) over the last decade. However, limited research exists when exploring how PSWs make sense of the transition of entering and enacting the role. The purpose of this paper is to explore the lived experience of NHS employed PSWs’ transition from their own experiences of mental health problems to provide a service to support individuals with their mental health problems.


The study used purposive sampling to recruit seven participants who were individually interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).


Three superordinate themes were identified: fluctuating identities, PSW role and organisational culture. These were interpreted as interdependent with interrelating subordinate themes.

Research limitations/implications

Participants considered the complex, idiosyncratic and changeable nature of the transitions and the impact on their individual, interpersonal and collective identities. Emotional and practical support appeared to assist the transition whilst competing roles and blurred boundaries constrained the enactment of the new role. Implications for practice and research are provided.


Reports on original research and adds to the sparse UK literature in this area.



The authors thank the research participants who contributed to the study and to the Trent DClinPsy Service User and Career Advisory Panel. The authors of this study do not have lived experience of mental health difficulties and have no experience of being PSWs.


Dyble, G., Tickle, A. and Collinson, C. (2014), "From end user to provider: making sense of becoming a peer support worker using interpretative phenomenological analysis", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 83-92.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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