According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness. Tier I support established a patient advisory council (PAC) composed of patients recovering from severe mental illness and a behavior health stakeholder group. The grantee, Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation, and its partner, Touchette Regional Hospital, recruited Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville School of Pharmacy to provide research expertise. A research team of staff from these entities built PAC confidence and effectiveness by instilling the principles of patient-centered research, training the patients in introductory research concepts, and developing trusting relationships between the patients and the research team. Several highly engaged discussions with the PAC developed ideas for comparative effectiveness research (CER) topics.
Tier II will build on the momentum generated in Tier I to further examine the CER ideas and select a priority research question. The key conceptual area generated by the PAC centers on a strong belief that peer support during and after treatment is more effective than professional interventions. Patients believe that they can trust another patient who has “walked in their shoes” more than a professional. Now that PAC confidence is built, the group of stakeholders will be expanded to include other outside entities that will be introduced into the PAC meetings to jointly develop a research question. Administratively, Tier II actions will refine the governance document to reflect this evolving project and implement the dissemination plan.