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RFP--A Systemic Review of Literature on the Effects of Self-help/Mutual Aid Use, Self-help Resource Centre


The mandate of the Self-Help Resource Centre is to promote self-help/mutual aid strategies and support self-help initiatives. The Centre fulfills its mandate by supporting existing self-help groups and by initiating programs which utilize self-help strategies to promote participation of people with common issues in supporting each other and finding solutions.

Mutual Aid /Self-Help Groups (MASH) are natural and healthy ways for people to organize themselves around common experiences, situations, interests or issues. These initiatives are participatory in nature and are run by the participants who provide each other with emotional, practical and informational support. Self-help/mutual aid is identified as a form of community participation. Self-help strategies enable people to investigate solutions, develop networks and combine resources while fostering self-worth, creativity and initiative. The self-help groups offer opportunities for learning skills and sharing responsibilities and leadership.


The purpose of this systemic literature review is to develop a better understanding of the MASH process and its effectiveness. The review will identify, appraise, select and synthesize research evidence relevant to the use of MASH in health promotion, capacity development, empowerment and community building. It will also help to assess the current state of research in MASH by discerning what evidence-based support there is for the continuing use of MASH in a variety of contexts and for the promotion of MASH as a methodology with professionals who may suggest self-help/mutual aid to clients and patients.  

The objectives of this review include the development of a clearly formulated question about the effectiveness of MASH and use of a systematic method to identify, select and critically appraise relevant research. The literature review will provide the following elements:

  • An overview of the issue, along with the question and objectives for the literature review
  • Division of works under review into categories (e.g. those in support of a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative positions; categorizations according to methodology and degree of confidence in evidence offered; types of outcomes and effects; content or focus of the use of MASH such as health-related issues, types of family, volunteer or community capacity building, etc.)
  • Explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others
  • Conclusions as to which articles are most convincing in their methodology and opinions and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of this area of research.
  • The review will place each work in the context of its contribution to the understanding of the MASH; describe the relationship of each work to the others; identify new ways to interpret and shed light on any gaps in previous research; identify areas of prior effort to point the way forward for future research.

The specific research questions/issues for this RFP may include these sub-topics

  • The factors in MASH groups used in various settings and for various purpose which contribute to the health and wellbeing of participants, contributing to the body of knowledge for evidence-based practice in MASH;
  • The various uses of MASH in building social capital and social cohesion;
  • The various uses of MASH in health promotion with a specific focus on smoking cessation, physical activity, healthy eating, workplace safety, mental health and dealing with chronic disease;
  • For the various uses of MASH, which are demonstrating effectiveness or showing preliminary evidence of success.


The final product will be a systemic review including the following elements:

  • A single focused question which will direct the literature review
  • Background including the research question (s)
  • Review goal and objectives
  • Search strategy including information on the database and resources used
  • Selection criteria
  • Main results and/or main conclusions of the review in answering the question/s
  • Concluding implications for future review or inquiry
  • Citations
  • Progress reports and Drafts must be submitted for review

The proposal should include:

  • The methodology, including brief summary of the topics of study, a summary of inclusion and exclusion criteria, how the critical assessment (analysis) will be done;
  • The potential data sources (web-based, dissertations, academic and peer-reviewed literature; materials available through foundations, government publications, and other sources);
  • The proposed timeline, workplan and milestones with completion date of first draft for September 1, 07
  • Budget including GST (not exceeding $7,000)
  • Information on the proposer's firm, background and experience with similar assignments;
  • At least two referees who are able to comment on the proposer's performance in terms of quality and client satisfaction;

Deadline and Notification

The proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday June 27th, 2007.  Please submit your proposals only by mail to

Roya Rabbani
Executive Director
40 Orchard View Blvd
Toronto, ON M4R 1B9

Only the successful candidates will be invited to meet with the research team.

The applicant will agree to duly and prominently acknowledge SHRC in any media release, journal articles, publications and presentations, or any other public mention.