Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

health policy


Social support, peer support, and strategic perspectives on health behaviour

Prof. Ed Fisher, Global Director of Peers for Progress

My comments address three general topics, the fundamental importance of social support in human behaviour and health, the strategic roles of peer support in prevention and health care, and some more general thoughts about behaviour change and health.
Social support as fundamental
Psychologists used to think that the basis for the connection between the infant and the mother was that the mother was the source of milk food. Harlow showed that, except when it’s hungry, an infant monkey went to the relatively warm, terrycloth mother on the left rather than the wire surrogate mother that was the source of milk. From this and a number of other studies, Harlow made the point that ‘contact comfort’, as he put it, is a powerful and fundamental characteristic of human behaviour.

A vast amount of research shows that having someone you can call on for a favour, with whom you can discuss personal matters, and who knows you…


Institute of Medicine Discussion Paper on Community Health Workers, Part 2

Clayton Velicer, MPH

In part 1 of this blog we highlighted several policy developments for Community Health Workers (CHWs) and looked at some of the challenges facing the CHW workforce as outlined in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recent discussion paper.

The IOM made 4 recommendations for the future of the CHW workforce (Note: these were written for California but are relevant to other states). In this blog, we’ll look at those recommendations and discuss their current status.
1) “Implement statewide infrastructure for CHW scope of practice, training, and certification that covers the role of CHWs in providing team-based primary care”
The IOM recommends assessing and defining the professional and practical skills of each member of the primary care team. The idea is that health care practices can maximize cost-effectiveness, quality, and outcomes if every member of the team operates at the top of their licensure and skills.

Defining a common scope of practice for CHWs…


Institute of Medicine Discussion Paper on Community Health Workers

Clayton Velicer, MPH

In the past month, we’ve seen an increase in news coverage of Community Health Workers (CHWs) as they take on bigger roles in the US healthcare system. A feature in Modern Healthcare highlighted successful CHWs programs in Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Florida became the latest state to establish certification for CHWs.

On February 4th, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a discussion paper on CHWs. In this blog, we take a look at the benefits and implementation challenges outlined in this paper.
Community Health Workers Save Costs
The authors of the IOM paper cite that CHWs save costs for providers. For example, CHWs produced a return on investment of 4:1 when working with children with asthma and a return on investment of 3:1 for Medicaid enrollees with unmet long-term care needs.

According to the authors, if the cost savings for CHWs were the “results for a clinical trial for a drug, we would likely see pressure for fast…

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