Peer-Led Photovoice for overcoming prejudice and enhancing community integration





Contact: Zlatka Russinova


The public stigma of mental illness has a profound effect on the lives of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI), including self-stigma, damaged self-esteem, and impaired social and vocational functioning. However, effective interventions have not yet been developed that reduce these negative effects of stigma. This project will evaluate the effects of a 10-week, peer-developed and peer-led group program, Anti-Stigma Photovoice (ASP), which blends Photovoice, an innovative public health participatory action research methodology, with psychoeducation and teaching proactive coping strategies for dealing with public and personal stigma. The ASP program has been manualized, and its feasibility and potential benefits have been established in a pilot randomized controlled trial (n=82) conducted at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University, in which participants in ASP showed significantly greater reductions in self-stigma and proactive coping. The proposed project will extend previous research on the ASP intervention by evaluating it in the context of a large public mental health agency (Riverside Community Care, Inc.), and determining whether improvements in self-stigma and proactive coping also lead to improved community integration, psychosocial functioning and psychological well-being and growth. We will conduct a randomized controlled trail with a total of 192 individuals with SMI (50% schizophrenia-spectrum), comparing the ASP program to services as usual (SAU), enhanced by the provision of a peer-led educational session about understanding and coping with stigma. Assessments will be conducted at baseline, post-treatment, 3- and 6-month follow- ups. The primary hypotheses are that the ASP program is more effective than the SAU at reducing self-stigma and perceived stigma and enhancing proactive coping with public stigma. The secondary hypotheses will explore the impact of the ASP program on psychosocial functioning, community integration, psychological well- being, and personal growth and recovery. The ASP program is the first peer-led program for people with SMI that specifically targets perceived stigma and self-stigma, and provides tools for coping with stigma in social situations. The proposed research will shed light on the effectiveness of an innovative, peer led intervention that has already shown promise for addressing the pressing problem of the stigma of mental illness for people with SMI.

BU Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Staff Role
Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D. Principal Investigator
Vasudha Gidugu, M.A. (Cand.) Project Director
Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D.
E. Sally Rogers, Sc.D.


No documents are available at this time. Please use the project contact for specific inquiries.


Inquiries related to the project should be addressed to:

Zlatka Russinova
Boston University, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation
940 Commonwealth Avenue West, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02215