The Peer support Observational Ethnography – Theory in Context (POETIC) study aims to explore the implementation of mental health peer support worker roles in one NHS mental health team. The study involves three parts:


  1. Observing peer support workers and other team members in the service setting in which they work and observing peer support workers with other NHS staff (not in their team), service users, and family members.
  2. Carrying out semi-structured interviews with mental health team members to further explore their perspectives on the peer support worker role.
  3. Collecting a range of documents relating to peer support work only e.g., leaflets, booklets, and policies.


The study will be conducted over a period of up to six months, The peer support workers employed by the Trust are the primary focus of the POETIC study. No patient information will be collected or recorded as part of this study. The patient group that will be observed are individuals who access crisis support mental health services. Support under Regulation 5 of the Control of Patient Information (COPI) Regulations (also known as ‘s251 support’) has been granted.

The findings of the POETIC study are likely to generate new insights into peer support worker role implementation. This includes informing the implementation strategy for new peer support worker roles in the Trust and highlighting some of the barriers and facilitators which may support best use of this new emerging workforce.

The study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a PhD study from 2020 to 2023.

For further details about the study contact: