Outpatient psychiatric care and peer support work (APPeer)

The project investigates how peer support workers can be sustainably implemented in the context of outpatient psychiatric care in Spitex organizations and develops possible solutions.


  • Lead school School of Health Professions
  • Institute Nursing
  • Research unit Innovation in the Field of Mental Health and Psychiatric Care
  • Funding organisation Others
  • Duration (planned) 01.10.2023 - 30.06.2024
  • Project management Dr. Anna Hegedüs
  • Head of project Dr. Anna Hegedüs
  • Project staff Nora Christa Ambord
    Dr. Anna Hegedüs
    Dr. Christian Burr
    Sabine Rühle Andersson
    Melina Hasler
  • Partner Verein Förderprogramm und Sozialfonds für ambulante Peer-Begleitung Psychische Gesundheit VFSPB
    Spitex oberes Worblental
    Spitex Region Bern Nord ReBeNo
    Spitex Region Brugg AG
    Ebnet Stiftung
  • Keywords Psychiatric care, Outpatient setting, Outreach services, Mental health, Recovery, Peer support, Peer support worker, Experienced Involvement, Spitex, Implementation, Participatory Research, Implementation Science


People with mental illness frequently experience severe impairments in their usual way of life and quality of life. Community mental health nurses play an important role in supporting these people. Peer support workers (PSW) are individuals with lived experience of mental health problems and of service use who utilize their acquired knowledge and skills to support others challenged by similar conditions. Peer support is considered a central component for the recovery of people with mental illness. It is considered as very enriching, low-threshold and cost-effective. It thus creates a multitude of benefits for clients, peers, organizations and the healthcare system. While peer support is mainly established and accepted in the inpatient and day-clinic settings in Switzerland, it is rarely used in outpatient settings. So far, there is no scientifically based knowledge about the structure of the implementation process and the challenges faced by Spitex organizations by implementing peer support. The APPeer project aims to fill this gap and to develop solutions on how to sustainably implement peer support workers in the context of Spitex organizations. In doing so, it contributes to its dissemination and optimization.

Course of action

We conduct a qualitative study based on the principles of implementation research with three cases (Spitex organizations) and a participatory research approach. The participating Spitex organizations use peer support workers in the outreach, one-to-one support of clients. They are accompanied and supported by Netzwerk Gesundheit Schweiz within the framework of the INGA project (e.g. in preparation, recruitment, implementation in the organization and further development). The three participating Spitex organizations are currently at different stages of the implementation process. Thus, a cross-sectional survey can be used to examine the entire process of implementation. Four investigation methods are combined with each other: 1. expert interviews with Spitex managers, peer support workers and nurses in the Spitex organizations. 2. focus group discussion with Netzwerk Gesundheit Schweiz 3. participant observation of peer support worker and client sessions 4. document analysis The analysis is based on qualitative content analysis. Subsequently, the findings will be discussed and validated in a participatory workshop with Netzwerk Gesundheit Schweiz, Spitex employees, peer support workers and stakeholders. Solutions for the dissemination and sustainable implementation of outreach peer support work in the context of psychiatric Spitex will be developed.


The first results are expected in spring/summer 2024.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 3: Good health and well-being