Megan Evans, MSPH
Young people have unique preferences and needs when it comes to getting social support for a health condition. Here’s a snapshot of what we know about those preferences. If you have any lessons learned from your own experience, please share them in the comments below!
Youth desire sites independent from their social media for getting support for illness: Youth access the Internet strategically and differentiate what sites they use to socialize and have fun from those they seek out for support and information about illness. While youth report using social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay connected with family and friends, these sites are likely not the best place to reach them to provide information and support regarding illness, whether mental or physical (Ahola Kohut et al., 2018; Wetterlin, Mar, Neilson, Werker, & Krausz, 2014). Adolescents report preferring to keep their illness private and tend to present themselves as…
Patrick Tang, MPH
Every year, Peers for Progress looks to the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine as an opportunity to learn from experts, share research findings from our network, and get inspired to take action. The conference caters to a wide range of interests, and yet attendees could spend the entire conference focusing on a narrow topic area. For example, I was particularly excited to see the number of presentations on technology-enhanced peer support and health coaching.
On our part, Peers for Progress investigators organized two symposia on peer support. The first symposium, Inside the Black Box: Deconstructing Social and Peer Support, took a deep dive into the mechanisms of effective interventions and offered practical recommendations to improve peer support programs. The second symposium, Peer Support: Channels of Dissemination, featured three model programs that have the potential to expand and sustain peer support for whole populations.
Clayton Velicer, MPH
In part 1 of this blog we looked at the development of an app called PersonA for increasing physical activity that includes a function for providing peer support. Specifically, we looked at how Al Ayuba and colleagues used theoretical health behavior theories to inform app development and how users were able to test the usability of the app. In part 2, we will examine how the authors combined usability testing and health theory to incorporate peer support functions into their app and results from the usability testing.
Incorporating Social and Peer Support
PersonA has two mechanisms to facilitate peer and social support. The authors believe the app can persuade people to change behaviors via social comparison (comparing oneself to others) and direct peer interactions.
The first function is a direct comparison feature that allows a user to directly compare their progress with that of one close peer, for example a friend or spouse. Users can choose to share…