Peer Workers in the Hospital Setting: The Roles and Experiences Providing Addiction Support

Monique Lalane, Fordham University


Amid the opioid epidemic, low level engagement in addiction treatment remains a significant issue. The integration of peer workers (PWs) in hospitals is a new recovery-oriented approach for individuals with substance use disorders who tend to receive care in hospitals instead of addiction treatment settings. This mixed methods exploratory case study was conducted to explore the elements of the PW’s role in a hospital interdisciplinary addiction consult model. The study sample included three PWs employed at a large urban public hospital in NYC, who were interviewed using a case-based technique, discussing their recall of work and experiences with 59 patients. Descriptive analysis was also conducted of the retrospective medical records of these 59 patients who received PW services with the PWs’ documentation. Reflexive thematic analysis was conducted of the PW’s qualitative interviews to identify emergent themes, which led to a conceptual model of the factors contributing to patient engagement. The key findings were the PWs as learners with lived experiences as the foundation of their role. PWs were empowered through hospital resources that supported their professional role, integration within the interdisciplinary team, and skillset essential to meet the needs of a complex patient population. Experiential learning is suggested as a framework for understanding and supporting PWs’ hospital-based learning. Recommendations focused on hospital best practices for PW integration and the role of social work in the standardization of PW training and supervision. The study provides a foundation to further research the factors to establish empirical elements of effective peer integrated interventions.

Subject Area

Mental health|Social work|Medicine

Recommended Citation

Lalane, Monique, "Peer Workers in the Hospital Setting: The Roles and Experiences Providing Addiction Support" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29211242.