Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Program Development Guide

What Support Looks Like

Chapter Navigation

1. Defining Peer Support

2. Models of Peer Support

3. What Support Looks Like


What Support Looks Like

The Four Key Functions – assistance in daily living, social and emotional support, linkages to care and community resources, as well as ongoing support – provide a general outline for the development of a peer support program while leaving flexibility to tailor programs to local and regional needs, populations, health systems, and cultures.

Peers for Progress’ peer-reviewed article, “Peer support for self-management of diabetes improved outcomes in international settings,” published in Health Affairs’ January 2012 Issue (Volume 31, Number 1), describes how the Four Key Functions map onto Peers for Progress Grantee projects in Cameroon, South Africa, Uganda and Thailand.


Examples from Two Peers for Progress Grantee Projects


supportcameroonPeer Support in Cameroon
Jean Claude Mbanya, President, International Diabetes Federation; University of Yaoundé and Central Hospital, Yaoundé

  • Assistance in Daily Management: Group meetings, individual contacts (five times per month), and varied activities (e.g., group meals to demonstrate healthy diet, group exercise) focus on barriers and personal targets.
  • Social and Emotional Support: Participants discuss with Peer Supporter personal problems unable to be discussed in group meetings or with professionals.Linkage to
  • Clinical Care: Peer supporters are trained not to be clinicians, but to serve as motivational link between participants and clinical care. They also refer and accompany participants to clinical care when indicated.
  • Ongoing Support: The program was developed to be continued indefinitely with group meetings held in convenient locations, Peer supporters receiving only modest honoraria.


puentesCommunity Based Peer Support in San Diego, California, USA
Guadalupe X. Ayala, San Diego State University

  • Assistance in Daily Management: Support groups to solve problems in self-management behaviors such as medication use.
  • Social and Emotional Support: Conduct family home visits to address relationships, communication, and issues around handling illness.
  • Linkage to Clinical Care and Community Resources: Hold clinic tours to introduce diabetes education programs and group visits to local libraries to explore community services.
  • Ongoing Support: Support groups build positive and supportive social networks.



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