To read this content please select one of the options below:

“From the same mad planet”: a grounded theory of service users’ accounts of the relationship within professional peer support

H. Alistair Bailie (University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK) (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)
Anna Tickle (Community Learning Disability Team, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Newark Hospital, Newark, UK) (Institute of Health, Work and Organisations, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Michael Rennoldson (Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 12 December 2016




Peer support (PS) workers are being employed despite uncertain evidence for clinical and cost-effectiveness. Psychological theories have been proposed to explain the mechanisms of PS but these lack empirical validation and specificity to professional PS. The purpose of this paper is to develop a substantive interpretive grounded theory of service-users’ experience of professional PS work.


Constructivist grounded theory was used throughout. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten service-users who had engaged with a professional PS worker.


Three overarching themes were constructed. “The process of disclosure” describes how disclosure of mental health difficulties, experiences as a service-user and wider disclosure about life experiences, interests and values facilitate the development of a shared identity with the PS worker. “The product of disclosure” highlights the sense of being understood as a result of the disclosure and marks a deepening of the relationship. “Dual roles” describes the tenuous position of holding both a professional relationship and friendship.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should seek to refine the theory developed and compare the effects of therapist self-disclosure with that found within PS. There were limitations within the study, including limited diversity within the sample as well as difficulties with recruitment.


This study connects service-users’ accounts of receiving PS with existing psychological theory to move towards an understanding of the relationship between receivers and providers of professional PS.



Bailie, H.A., Tickle, A. and Rennoldson, M. (2016), "“From the same mad planet”: a grounded theory of service users’ accounts of the relationship within professional peer support", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 282-294.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles