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What are the Most Effective Approaches to Training and Supporting the Lived and Living Experience Workforce?

January 1, 2023
Meg Brunner, MLIS
Opie JE, et al. Training of lived experience workforces: A rapid review of content and outcomes. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 2022 (in press). Free on PubMed Central
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Addiction Science Made Easy
January 2023
CTN Dissemination Library & Northwest ATTC

Lived Experience Training

What’s the Question?

“Lived and living experience” (LLE) refers to people who have direct experience-based knowledge and understanding of mental health or substance use disorders (SUD), service system use, and recovery, either through personal involvement or through supporting another throughout their journey. 

The importance of both voluntary and paid contributions from people with lived experience in mental health and SUD services is increasingly being recognized, with peer support programs expanding nationwide.

However, despite the benefits of LLE workforce inclusion, some LLE practitioners have encountered personal and professional challenges in the workplace related to a lack of familiarity with the settings, role definition confusion, insufficient training, and stigma.

One essential avenue for addressing some of these challenges is through the provision of training to ensure adequate preparation and support for LLE workforce roles. But what topics should be included in such training and what are the most effective approaches? 

How Was This Study Conducted?

To find out more about the best ways to train the LLE workforce, researchers performed a “rapid review” of existing research articles on the subject. After searching databases for relevant papers and whittling the results down based on a series of criteria for eligibility, researchers ended up with 36 papers that were relevant to their questions.

What Did Researchers Find Out?

Researchers found evidence of both short- and long-term impacts of training participation for this emerging workforce, with the most promising outcomes being increased professional knowledge and skills and improved personal psychosocial wellbeing and trauma recovery.

Other positive training outcomes included high trainee satisfaction, increased application of training skills, and better employment/education opportunities following training completion.
Gaps and training limitations noted were related to training content/delivery approaches (wanting more hands-on training, wanting more refresher trainings, e.g.), trainee reservations (concern about being unprepared or unsupported, e.g.), and personal barriers to training participation or completion (scheduling conflicts, e.g.). 

Researchers also noted evidence of negative outcomes reported by the LLE workforce trainees, the most significant of which stemmed from the negative attitudes of clinicians toward this type of work and workplace culture that these attitudes tend to promote. Stigma, in other words, remains a major challenge in may workplaces that can limit the effectiveness of this important set of workforce members.

What Are the Implications for the Workforce?

This would be a good paper for anyone currently doing or planning to do training of the LLE or peer workforce in their organizations or beyond. Not only does it provide a useful summary of the relevant research, but it also ends with a series of suggestions for future training approaches, including focusing on trainee wellbeing through the process, using skilled trainers who have experience both in the relevant workforce and as educators, providing ongoing support during and beyond the formal learning period, facilitating a support workplace culture, and more. 

Free on PubMed Central