Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

How do peer coaches improve diabetes care for low-income patients?

Diabetes Educ. 2013 Nov-Dec;39(6):800-10. [Pubmed Abstract]

How do peer coaches improve diabetes care for low-income patients?: a qualitative analysis
Goldman ML, Ghorob A, Eyre SL, Bodenheimer T

The purpose of the study was to explore the perspectives and roles of peer coaches, who are patients with diabetes trained to provide diabetes self-management support (DSMS) to other patients.

A focus group and 17 qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with community-based peer coaches in San Francisco in order to better understand the process by which these coaches engaged with their patients. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using methods based on grounded theory to develop a theoretical model of peer coach roles.

Peer coaches play 3 principal roles in providing DSMS: advisor, supporter, and role model. While working with patients, peer coaches had different approaches to setting emotional boundaries and to allocating responsibility for implementing health behavior changes. Peer coaches were more consistent in how they sought resources from providers. Peer coaches also became empowered to better manage their own diabetes.

Peer coaches are a highly motivated potential workforce uniquely positioned to teach and empower patients by building trust through shared experiences. The variability in coaching styles suggests an inherent diversity among peer coaches that must be accounted for in future strategies for design, recruitment, training, and oversight of peer coaching programs.

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