Peer mentors as a transitional and emerging position in alcohol and drug services

PhD thesis

Soondar, A. 2023. Peer mentors as a transitional and emerging position in alcohol and drug services. PhD thesis Middlesex University Health, Social Care and Education
TypePhD thesis
TitlePeer mentors as a transitional and emerging position in alcohol and drug services
AuthorsSoondar, A.

Background and rationale: The thesis explores the role of peer mentors (PMs) and how it is perceived and shaped by PMs themselves and the people they work with in alcohol and drug services in London. The literature review, carried out as part of this thesis, found critical gaps in the published literature, particularly regarding the lack of relevant studies in the United Kingdom. This thesis contributes to understanding how individuals define and carry out the PM role, the transitional nature of the role, and the pathways PMs have taken. It explores how concepts of identity, liminality, and organisational socialisation are useful in describing the pathway from a service user to PM.

Methodology and Methods: The thesis employed a qualitative interpretivist methodological approach to gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the participants’ experiences of either working as PMs or as service providers and managers in the organisation in which PMs’ positions exist. The sample was a convenience one, recruiting those with lived experiences of alcohol dependency and staff working in alcohol and drug services. The data collection method primarily consisted of semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and data from a service mapping exercise. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected, to code, and identify emergent themes. The theoretical framework drew on social-ecological framework theory, combined with Schlossberg’s transitional theory in examining the PM pathway, and concepts of self, identity, organisational socialisation, and liminality to understand the changes individuals underwent in transitioning from a service user to a PM.

Findings: This study showed that the role of PMs was regarded as valuable both for the individuals concerned and for the organisations they worked for. The role was defined by two common denominators: possessing lived experiences and maintaining abstinence; however, it was a role which lacked clear definition, and which varied between organisations. There are several pathways service users may take into and through the PM role, each with the potential to positively enhance or hinder individual progression. The PM role can be seen as a ‘transitional’ pathway when individuals are adjusting to new roles and opportunities. Given the transitional nature of the PM role, individuals can experience a liminal state which can impact (positively or negatively) on their personal and social identity and their future pathways depending on the socialisation processes offered by their host organisation.

Conclusions: This thesis contributes to new knowledge by offering insights into the benefits and potential risks associated with the role of PMs in alcohol and drug services. PM's positions are not only valued by the alcohol and drug services, but it aids their recovery journey, leading to positive self-identities and social integration within broader societal and organisational settings. This research identifies specific recommendations for further exploration, including the transitional nature of the PM role, the integration of these individuals into the organisation, the role of organisational socialisation in this process, and the development and implementation of a competency framework for the PM role.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
Department nameHealth, Social Care and Education
Institution nameMiddlesex University
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online19 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted31 Jul 2023
Deposited19 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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