GPS Group Peer Support has a strong commitment to the development of a solid evidence-base for the GPS model. Since the early 2000’s when GPS began engaging in research and evaluation, we have utilized both qualitative and quantitative research designs in independent research with academic partners. In addition, the GPS model is developed to seamlessly incorporate evidence-based modalities each which have their own solid body of research including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness-based stress reduction, peer to peer support and psychosocial education. 

Early research of the GPS model focused on the impact of the GPS Group model on perinatal mothers, the barriers to care and the circumstances of parenting infants in the U.S. The evidence-base for the impact of GPS on maternal mental health outcomes supported the evolution of the model and its applicability to other unique populations. We are now actively engaged in studies to understand the impact of GPS on several unique populations. 

GPS Research & Evaluation

Peer Support for Healthcare

Evidence-based modalities incorporated into GPS



The Impact of GPS Group Peer Support on Recovery Specialists working for the MA Bureau of Substance and Addiction Services. Researchers: Dr. Peggy O’Neill Smith College School for Social Work; Dr. Maria Torres, Stony Brook University, School of Social Welfare. Results: study is currently active.

The Impact of GPS Group Peer Support on Postpartum Mothers. Researchers: Dr. Peggy O’Neill, Smith College School for Social Work; Dr. Damion Grasso, University of Connecticut Health, Family Adversity & Resilience Research Program. Results: study is currently active.

The Impact of GPS Group Peer Support on COVID-19 Front Line Healthcare Worker. Researchers: Dr. Peggy O'Neill, Smith College School of Social Work; Dr. Maria Torres, Stony Brook University, School of Social Welfare; Dr. Julie Prentice, Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, Ola Sczerepa, Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, Results: study is currently active.

Want to partner with us in research? We’d love that! Please click below to start this conversation:


2020, Briggs-Gowan, M.J., Drury S.S., Carter, A.S., Muzik, M., O’Neill P., Friedman L., Moyer C., Lara- Cinisomo , Gray, S., Ford, J. & Grasso, D.J., The Epidemic – Pandemic Impacts Inventory Prenatal Supplement (EPII-P). University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

2020, Drury, S.D., Johnson, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Hodnett, D., Gaston-Hawkins, L, O’Neill. P., Friedman, L., Liu, C., Chavez, A., Mayne, C., Carter, A.S. The Brief Assessment of Perinatal Healthcare Equity. Tulane University. Unpublished. 

2018, O’Neill, P., Cycon, A., Friedman, L., Seeking social support and postpartum depression: A pilot retrospective study of perceived changes, Midwifery, Volume 71, April 2019, Pages 56-62.

“O’Neill, Cycon, Friedman” PDF

2015, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, AMCHP Promising Practice, Innovation Station. GPS Founders Annette Cycon and Liz Friedman developed the GPS Support Group Model while leading the non-profit MotherWoman (newly named Woman of Color Health Equity Collective) and received the AMCHP Promising Practice status in 2015 for the Community-based Perinatal Support Model which includes the GPS Support Group Facilitator Training and Model.

2014 Byatt, N., Biebel, K., Debordes-Jackson, G., & Friedman, L., Listening to Mothers: What's Helpful for Mothers Experiencing Perinatal Depression, Psychiatry Information in Brief, 11 (3)

2013 Byatt N., Biebel, K., Friedman, L, Debordes-Jackson, G., Ziedonis, D., Pbert, L., Patient's views on depression care in obstetric settings: how do they compare to the views of perinatal health care professionals?. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2013;35(6):598-604.


2013 Byatt, N.; Biebel, K.; Friedman, L., Debordes-Jackson, G., , Jeroan, A., and Ziedonis, D. M., "Barriers and Facilitators to Addressing Perinatal Depression in Obstetric Settings" University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science Research.

2012 Curtin-McKenna, M., MSW, MotherWoman Support Groups and Mothers with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the First Twelve Months Postpartum: Challenges, Coping, Supports, Strengths, and Resilience, Master’s Thesis, Smith College School of Social Work.

2012 Tarcznski, B., Postpartum Depression Support Group of MotherWoman, Inc.: A participants’ profile and needs assessment, Master’s Thesis, Smith College School of Social Work.

2011 L. Lauf, Postpartum Depression Support Group of MotherWoman; Cognitive-behavioral methods embedded in feminist practices, Master’s Thesis, Smith College School of Social Work.

2009 R. Fishburn-Gibbs, MEd, Harvard Graduate School of Education, MotherWoman’s Postpartum Stress Group, Master’s Thesis, School of Education, Harvard University.


Evidence-base for peer support

There is a strong body of research that supports the impact of support groups on emotional wellness, resilience, behavioral change, physical/emotional recovery as well as success with sustaining recovery from substance use. Support groups have been shown to be impactful for diverse populations including healthcare workforce, trauma survivors, refugees/immigrants and other unique populations. Additionally, research shows that support groups are effective and impactful with diabetes management, cancer treatment, infertility treatment, recovery from addiction, bereavement, and mental health complications like depression and anxiety. GPS builds upon the strong foundation of research that support groups have an impact on wellness, resilience, and recovery.

Below is a small sampling of the research findings to support these understandings.


H. Blake, F. Bermingham, G. Johnson, A. Tabner, Mitigating the psychological impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers: A digital learning package, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (9) (2020), p. 2997, 10.3390/ijerph17092997


Q. Cai, H. Feng, H. Huang, et al., The mental health of frontline and non-frontline medical workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in China: A case-control study Journal of Affective Disorders, 275 (2020), pp. 210-215, 10.1016/j.jad.2020.06.031


Y.-C. Chen, Y.-L.L. Guo, L.-C. Lin, Y.-J. Lee, P.-Y. Hu, J.-J. Ho, et al., Development of the nurses' occupational stressor scale, Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (2) (2020), p. 649, 10.3390/ijerph17020649


L. Duan, G. Zhu, Psychological interventions for people affected by the COVID-19 epidemic

The Lancet Psychiatry, 7 (2020), pp. 300-302, 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30073-0


Dzau VJ, Kirch D, Nasca T. Preventing a parallel pandemic — a national strategy to protect clinicians’ well-being. N Engl J Med 2020;383:513-515.


D. Edwards, P. Burnard, A systematic review of stress and stress management interventions for mental health nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 42 (2) (2003), pp. 169-200, 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02600.x


Han S, Shanafelt TD, Sinsky CA, et al. Estimating the attributable cost of physician burnout in the United States. Ann Intern Med 2019;170:784-790.


Hu YY, Fix ML, Hevelone ND, et al. Physicians' needs in coping with emotional stressors: the case for peer support. Arch Surg. 2012;147(3):212-217. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.312


Lane MA, Newman BM, Taylor MZ, et al. Supporting Clinicians After Adverse Events: Development of a Clinician Peer Support Program. J Patient Saf. 2018;14(3):e56-e60. doi:10.1097/PTS.0000000000000508


J. Maben, J. Bridges, Covid-19: Supporting nurses’ psychological and mental health

Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29 (2020), pp. 2742-2750, 10.1111/jocn.15307


Panagioti M, Panagopoulou E, Bower P, et al. Controlled interventions to reduce burnout in physicians: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med 2017;177:195-205.


S. Pappa, V. Ntella, T. Giannakas, V.G. Giannakoulis, E. Papoutsi, P. Katsaounou

Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 88 (2020), pp. 901-907, 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.05.026


Pereira L, Radovic T, Haykal KA. Peer support programs in the fields of medicine and nursing: a systematic search and narrative review. Can Med Educ J. 2021;12(3):113-125. Published 2021 Jun 30. doi:10.36834/cmej.71129


Shapiro J, Galowitz P. Peer support for clinicians: a programmatic approach. Acad Med 2016;91:1200-1204


Shapiro, J, McDonald TB, Supporting Clinicians during Covid-19 and Beyond — Learning from Past Failures and Envisioning New Strategies. N Engl J Med 2020; 383:e142.


The following is a brief introduction to the evidence-based modalities and their utilization in a group environment. Each of the following is integrated in the GPS model. By incorporating them into the GPS model we are able to provide multiple therapeutic modalities in a seamless group experience increasing therapeutic benefit and diminishing barriers to access for participants.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Barrett, K., Stewart, I. (2020) A preliminary comparison of the efficacy of online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy stress management interventions for social and healthcare workers. Health and Social Care in the Community 29 (1), 113-126.

Raven Bureau, Doha Bemmouna, Clara Gitahy Falcao Faria, Anne-Aline Catteau Goethals, Floriane Douhet, Amaury C. Mengin, Aurélie Fritsch, Anna Zinetti Bertschy, Isabelle Frey, Luisa Weiner, My Health Too: Investigating the Feasibility and the Acceptability of an Internet-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Program Developed for Healthcare Workers, Frontiers in Psychology, 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.760678, 12, (2021).

McEvoy, P. M., & Nathan, P. (2007). Effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy for diagnostically heterogeneous groups: A benchmarking study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(2), 344-350. 

Scope A, Leaviss J, Kaltenthaler E, et al. Is group cognitive behaviour therapy for postnatal depression evidence-based practice? A systematic review. BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13:321. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-321.

Weiner, L., Berna, F. (2020) Efficacy of an online cognitive behavioral therapy program developed for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: The Reduction of Stress REST) study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

Interpersonal Therapy

Caron Zlotnick, Sheri L. Johnson, Ivan W. Miller, Teri Pearlstein, and Margaret Howard, Postpartum Depression in Women Receiving Public Assistance: Pilot Study of an Interpersonal-Therapy-Oriented Group Intervention, American Journal of Psychiatry 2001 158:4, 638-640 

Leonard M, Graham S, Bonacum D. The human factor: the critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care. Qual Safe Health Care. 2004;13Suppl 1:i85-90.

Greenberg N, Docherty M, Gnanapragasam S, Wessely S. Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic. BMJ. 2020;368:m1211.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction


Behan, C., The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19, Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 37 (4), 256-258. Doi:10.1017/ipm.2020.38


Lomas, T, Medina, JC, Ivtzan, I, Rupprecht, S, Eiroa-Orosa, FJ (2018). A systematic review of the impact of mindfulness on the well-being of healthcare professionals. Journal of Clinical Psychology 74(3), 319–355.


Marion Sommers-Spijkerman, Judith Austin, Ernst Bohlmeijer, Wendy Pots, New Evidence in the Booming Field of Online Mindfulness: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials (Preprint), JMIR Mental Health, 10.2196/28168, (2021).


Paul Grossman, Ludger Niemann, Stefan Schmidt, Harald Walach (2004) Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: a meta-analysis, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35–43.

Motivational Interviewing


Mary M. Velasquez PhD, Nanette S. Stephens PhD & Karen Ingersoll PhD (2006) Motivational Interviewing in Groups, Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, 1:1, 27-50, DOI: 10.1300/J384v01n01_03

Peer Support


Dennis C-L. The effect of peer support on postpartum depression: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Can J Psychiatry Rev Can Psychiatr. 2003;48(2):115-124.

Eastwood P. Promoting peer group support with postnatally depressed women. Health Visit. 1995;68(4):148-150.

Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A.J., Green, A.L., & Ferron, John M. Supporting Parents Who Have Youth with Emotional Disturbances Through a Parent-to-Parent Support Program: A Proof of Concept Study Using Random Assignment. Administrative Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research (2011) 38:412-427.


Obrochta, C., Anthony, B., Armstron, M., Kalil, J., Hust, J., & Kernan, J. (2011) Issue brief: Family-to-family peer support: Models and evaluation. Atlanta, GA: ICF Macro, Outcomes Roundtable for Children and Families.

Solomon P. Peer support/peer provided services underlying processes, benefits, and critical ingredients. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2004;27(4):392-401.

Psychosocial Education

Bennett, Cathy, et al. “Group-Based Parenting Programs for Improving Parenting and Psychosocial Functioning: A Systematic Review.” Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, vol. 4, no. 4, 2013, pp. 300–332. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Dennis C-L. Psychosocial interventions for the treatment of perinatal depression. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2014;28(1):97-111. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.08.008.

Ritter C, Hobfoll SE, Lavin J, Cameron RP, Hulsizer MR. Stress, psychosocial resources, and depressive symptomatology during pregnancy in low-income, inner-city women. Health Psychol Off J Div Health Psychol Am Psychol Assoc. 2000;19(6):576-585.

Support Groups


Kruske, Sue, Virginia Schmied, Ivy Sutton, and Joan O’Hare. “Mothers’ Experiences of Facilitated Peer Support Groups and Individual Child Health Nursing Support: A Comparative Evaluation.” Journal of Perinatal Education 13, no. 3 (January 22, 2004): 31–38.

Solomon, M., N. Pistrang, and C. Barker. “The Benefits of Mutual Support Groups for Parents of Children with Disabilities.” American Journal of Community Psychology 29, no. 1 (2001): 113-132.

Fleming AS, Klein E, Corter C. The effects of a social support group on depression, maternal attitudes and behavior in new mothers. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1992;33(4):685-698.