This report by innovation charity Nesta and National Voices summarises evidence from more than 1,000 studies of peer support to understand different models and their effectiveness and help organisations and commissioners make decisions about investing in peer support.
The review found that there is evidence that peer support can help people feel more knowledgeable, confident and happy and less isolated and alone. Peer support may also encourage people to take more care of their health which, in the longer term, could lead to better health outcomes such as improved blood pressure or blood sugar control or less anxiety. However, evidence about these sorts of benefits, as well as the cost-effectiveness of peer support, is mixed. It also found that differenty types of peer support may have varying benefits, with the most promising types appearing to be face-to-face groups, one-to-one support, online forums and support offered regularly.
The review sets out a range of models and what is known about their impact on people’s experience, health behaviour and outcomes, and service use and costs.