Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Testing the Effectiveness of a Peer-Led Intervention to Enhance Community Integration:

Anti-Stigma Photovoice




2014 - 2020


Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D. Principal Investigator






The public stigma surrounding psychiatric conditions has a profound effect on people’s lives 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 evaluated 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 were established in a pilot randomized controlled trial (n=82) in which participants in ASP showed significantly greater reductions in self-stigma and proactive coping. This project was designed to 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 recruited and randomly assigned a total of 192 individuals with serious psychiatric conditions and compared the recipients of the ASP program to those receiving services-as-usual. The Services-As-Usual group received a single educational session about understanding and coping with stigma. Assessments were conducted at baseline, post-treatment, and 3 and 6 month, post services followup. The primary hypotheses tested were that the ASP program is more effective than services-as-usual at reducing self-stigma,perceived stigma and enhancing proactive coping with public stigma. Secondary hypotheses explored 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 serious psychiatric conditions that specifically targets perceived stigma and self-stigma, and provides tools for coping with stigma in social situations. Overall, this project has shed light on the effectiveness of an innovative, peer-led intervention for addressing the pressing problem of the stigma of mental illness for people with serious psychiatric conditions.


Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Vasudha Gidugu, Ph.D., Project Director

Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

E. Sally Rogers, Sc.D., Co-Investigator


Russinova, Z., Rogers, E.S., Gagne, C., Bloch, P., Drake, K.M., Mueser, K.T. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of a peer-run antistigma photovoice intervention. Psychiatric Services. 65(2),242-6. doi: 0.1176/


Inquiries related to the project should be addressed to:

Zlatka Russinova, Ph.D.

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