Peer Support as a Strategy for Achieving Diabetes Health Equity
What is Peer Support?
Peer support interventions are increasingly recognized as an appendage of integrative care. The concept of leveraging peer relationships in the provision of health care has significantly supported the paradigm shift in care from treatment of an illness to health promotion. Peer support has been defined as connecting patients with individuals from similar life circumstances or similar health conditions that also possess the knowledge and experience of providing social support, education and suggestions of self-management of conditions.
What are Key Components of Effective Peer Support Interventions?
- Flexibility to meet the needs of the target population
- Assistance in daily management of diabetes;
- Social and emotional support to encourage the management of behavior and help patient cope with negative emotions;
- Linkage to clinical care and community resources;
- Ongoing support necessary for management of diabetes as a chronic disease; and
- Conduct a feasibility and impact evaluation of the peer support intervention
Why is Peer Support and Effective Strategy for Achieving Diabetes Health Equity?
Growing evidence suggests that peer support has helped reduce or prevent high risk health behaviors, vascular disease, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, etc. The success of peer support in managing both terminal and chronic illnesses suggest that it may be an effective strategy in reducing gaps leading to health disparities. Diabetes is a disease where disparities and exist, in fact, it ranks highly on the national agenda. The self-management of diabetes involves many lifestyle modifications such as improving diet, increasing physical activity, monitoring blood glucose levels and adherence to medication instructions. Nurses and diabetes educators typically lead the promotion of diabetes self-management, however, this presents a burden on resources, especially in low-income communities. The availability of nurses and educators are few compared to the demand for adequate diabetes care. It is evident that peer support has improved diabetes health equity in low-income communities by having a favorable effect on improving glycemic control.
PDHE Virtual Learning Academy CME Accredited Course
Dr. Edwin Fisher, Global Director of Peers for Progress a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, presents the CME accredited PDHE course, “Peer Support as a Strategy for Reducing Disparities”.