- Why Diabetes and Peer Support?
Diabetes is a global public health problem, and its scope and complexity are a particularly appropriate focus for peer support. According to the World Health Organization, with current trends prevailing, the number of individuals affected by diabetes is likely to more than double in the next two decades. Around the globe, diabetes is outpacing the ability of healthcare systems to provide adequate care. In addition, diabetes encompasses all aspects of life, from eating and physical activity to work and intimate relationships. Diabetes imposes challenges twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of individuals’ lives. For people with diabetes, medical treatment from their health-care providers is critical – but often not enough to master and maintain the kinds of everyday behaviors that enable them to live as healthily as possible. In fact, there is ample evidence that without sustained support, many people will not succeed in managing their condition well, leading to poor health outcomes, including avoidable expensive and debilitating complications.
Peer support programs can help individuals manage their disease and help health care systems be more effective. These interventions are based on the assumption that people living with chronic conditions have a great deal to offer one another in terms of knowledge and emotional support. If effective, peer support models would be a promising addition to public health systems that face severe resource constraints and increasing needs among patients living with diabetes and/or other chronic conditions.
- What is Peer Support?
Peer support is practical, social, and emotional support between people who share similar experiences with a disease or health problem. Peer support – through community health workers, promotoras, lay health advisors, coaches and more – is widely used, from doulas assisting mothers during labor and delivery in South America to community health workers promoting healthy lifestyles and active living among older adults in numerous other countries. Peer support can take many forms – phone calls, text messaging, group meetings, home visits, going for walks together, and even grocery shopping.
Around the world, different cultures and contexts influence health behaviors like diet, how we feel about diseases and health, and even how we give and receive support from others. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to peer support around the world. Yet a core set of functions can outline peer support around the world.
- Assistance in daily living
- Social and emotional support
- Linkages to clinical care and community resources
- Ongoing support
Peer support complements and enhances other health care services by creating the emotional, social and practical assistance necessary for managing the disease and staying healthy.
- What does "8760 hours on your own" mean, and how does peer support fit in?
8,760 = 24 hours per day X 365.25 days per year (including leap year) minus 6.
If the average individual with a disease like diabetes spends as many as six hours a year in a doctor’s or other health professional’s office, that leaves 8,760 hours a year they are “on their own” to do all the things that managing a disease or condition like diabetes requires. Such management includes things like healthy diet, physical activity, monitoring blood sugar, taking medications, managing sick days, and managing stress.
This is where peer support comes in! Please read more about the 8760 guide here.