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JMIR Ment Health ; 8(5): e25528, 2021 May 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1249615


BACKGROUND: Initial training is essential for the mental health peer support worker (PSW) role. Training needs to incorporate recent advances in digital peer support and the increase of peer support work roles internationally. There is a lack of evidence on training topics that are important for initial peer support work training and on which training topics can be provided on the internet. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to establish consensus levels about the content of initial training for mental health PSWs and the extent to which each identified topic can be delivered over the internet. METHODS: A systematized review was conducted to identify a preliminary list of training topics from existing training manuals. Three rounds of Delphi consultation were then conducted to establish the importance and web-based deliverability of each topic. In round 1, participants were asked to rate the training topics for importance, and the topic list was refined. In rounds 2 and 3, participants were asked to rate each topic for importance and the extent to which they could be delivered over the internet. RESULTS: The systematized review identified 32 training manuals from 14 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These were synthesized to develop a preliminary list of 18 topics. The Delphi consultation involved 110 participants (49 PSWs, 36 managers, and 25 researchers) from 21 countries (14 high-income, 5 middle-income, and 2 low-income countries). After the Delphi consultation (round 1: n=110; round 2: n=89; and round 3: n=82), 20 training topics (18 universal and 2 context-specific) were identified. There was a strong consensus about the importance of five topics: lived experience as an asset, ethics, PSW well-being, and PSW role focus on recovery and communication, with a moderate consensus for all other topics apart from the knowledge of mental health. There was no clear pattern of differences among PSW, manager, and researcher ratings of importance or between responses from participants in countries with different resource levels. All training topics were identified with a strong consensus as being deliverable through blended web-based and face-to-face training (rating 1) or fully deliverable on the internet with moderation (rating 2), with none identified as only deliverable through face-to-face teaching (rating 0) or deliverable fully on the web as a stand-alone course without moderation (rating 3). CONCLUSIONS: The 20 training topics identified can be recommended for inclusion in the curriculum of initial training programs for PSWs. Further research on web-based delivery of initial training is needed to understand the role of web-based moderation and whether web-based training better prepares recipients to deliver web-based peer support.