Text message exchanges between older adults with serious mental illness and older certified peer specialists in a smartphone-supported self-management intervention.

Objective: To identify the strategies peer specialists use to provide illness self-management support for older adults with serious mental illness (SMI) through text messaging. Method: Transcripts of text message exchanges between 8 older adult participants with SMI who completed the PeerTECH intervention and 3 older adult certified peer specialists who delivered the 12-week program were analyzed. Text message analyses explored themes relevant to peer support and health behavior change. Quantitative data comprised frequency of text messages by either the peer or consumer. Results: Consumers (N = 8) had a mean age of 68.8 years (SD = 4.9) and were mainly women (88%), White (100%), and married (75%). Certified peer specialists (N = 3) were all 55 or older; 100% were female, 66% identified as White, and 33% identified as African American. Overall, peers sent 215 text messages whereas consumers sent 141 text messages. In the peer specialist−consumer text message exchanges, we identified 4 themes on different aspects of illness self-management, including health behavior change, self-management therapeutic techniques, engagement in health technology, and peer support. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: This exploratory qualitative study offers preliminary support that peers are able to use text messages to support the delivery of a peer-delivered home-based medical and psychiatric self-management intervention. Certified peer specialists can potentially provide a range of illness self-management support to older adults with SMI via text messaging. These findings will inform the development of standardized peer text-messaging services to augment evidence-based illness self-management interventions for older adults with SMI. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)