Peer support in health: evidence to action

Peer support in health: evidence to action

Author: The Health Foundation

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This report sets out the evidence for peer support and its benefits. It describes the key features of effective peer support programmes and what is needed to implement these at both strategic and operational levels. It explores how the impact and effectiveness of peer support programmes can be evaluated.

This report shows that peer support works and goes on to highlight:

  • the unique strengths peers can bring to health promotion and health care
  • the importance of the community-grounded nature of peer support and its versatility in ranging from individuals to families to organizational settings to neighborhoods and communities
  • the value of peer support in providing a point to which individuals can turn for feeling understood and helped within the contexts and settings of their own lives
  • how peer support can be defined and standardized while remaining flexible and responsive to the people and communities it serves
  • the importance of peer support as a way of reaching those too often passed over by prevention and health care
  • growing emphasis on integrating peer support, behavioral health, and primary care
  • the importance of quality assurance – supervision, management, and organizational factors in providing a setting in which peer support can be effective and sustained
  • understanding evaluation as a practical part of quality improvement
  • within the context of 21st century health care, the connection between sustainability of peer support programs and their ability to extend to whole populations who need them
  • the need for regulatory frameworks that standardize peer support services while allowing for flexibility to match the specific needs of unique populations and settings
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