Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Program Development Guide

Selection and Screening

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1. Recruitment of Peer Supporters

2. Selection and Screening


Selection and Screening

Do better patients ALWAYS make better peer supporters?
It is a common assumption that individuals who can manage their conditions well are good peer supporter candidates. However, it is not necessarily always the case. In a study conducted by Rogers EA (2014), researchers found that the most successful peer supporters, as measured by greatest improvement in their participant’s A1c, had higher diabetes distress scores, a lower sense of self-efficacy around their own diabetes self-management, and lower depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that, in their context, some uncertainty with the peer supporter’s diabetes management might encourage various interpersonal traits (e.g., empathy, approachability), development of coping skills, or possibly an openness to training. These findings could also suggest that these peer supporters may be more collaborative and willing to participate in a reciprocal relationship with patients that facilitates effective peer support and patient self-management.

Recruitment and selection of peer supporters are closely related. Therefore, it is important to use the defined prerequisites of peer supporters and community characteristics to guide the selection process. In addition to sharing experience with a disease or condition, peer supporters should be similar to the population profile of the people with whom they will work. This may include age, ethnicity, language and other personal characteristics. More importantly, peer support relies on the ability to develop quality relationships. Therefore, inclusion of certain interpersonal traits (e.g., empathy, motivation), social and communication skills, as well as sufficient time availability are also crucial. It will be helpful to first determine which characteristics are most important to your program; understanding the “must-have” traits can help you prioritize and brainstorm alternate recruitment strategies when a program encounters difficulties finding “ideal” peer supporter candidates.


Here are some questions to consider in selecting peer supporters:

  • What is your target community?
  • Are your peer supporters part of that community?
  • Will you pay your peer supporters?
  • What is the time commitment for peer supporters?
  • Is it a requirement that your peer supporters have the targeted disease or condition?
  • What is this person’s knowledge about self-management related to the targeted disease or condition?
  • Would this person be opened and willing to learn new information rather than feeling they already have all the answers?
  • How well does this person manage their disease or condition assuming that having such a condition is essential?
  • What clinic or provider does this person visit?
  • How well does this person relate to others?
  • What motivates this person?
  • How available is this person to provide regular and ongoing support?


The Chronic Illness Alliance Peer Support Network’s Best Practice Framework – Sec 4.1 Recruitment Selection and Screening This section provides an overview of selecting and screening volunteer peer supporters.
The 2010 Peers for Progress Global Conference report (p.1) This report highlights lessons learned about selection from participants representing 40 peer support programs from around the world.
The Peer Support Resource Manual by British Columbia Ministry of Health Services (p.25) This manual has sections addressing screening peer supporters.
The Peer Mentoring program manual for individuals with brain injury and their families by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (Section D) This section shares key aspects and tips for screening peer mentors for brain injury peer support programs.
2011 SBM: Recruiting and Selecting Peers for Progress grantee project in San Diego, CA introduces how they selected and recruited volunteer peer supporters for people with diabetes among Hispanic/Latino populations.
The WellMed Care Companion Program: Selecting and Training Peer Mentors to Empower Patients Peers for Progress grantee project in Texas shares experience on how they train peer supporters.
Puentes hacia una mejor vida/Bridges to a better life: Screening questionnaire for screeners’ use and interview guide (Spanish and English) Peers for Progress grantee project in San Diego, CA shares their selection and screening materials.
ENCOURAGE: Peer advisor screening form Peers for Progress grantee project in rural Alabama shares their selection and screening material.
PLEASED: Recruitment protocol (Individual and group interviews) Peers for Progress grantee project in Michigan shares their selection materials.
Australasian Peers for Progress Diabetes Project: Interview questions and scorecard Peers for Progress grantee project in Australia shares their selection materials.


© 2015 | Peers for Progress

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