The Power of Peer-to-Peer Patient Support
What is Peer-to-Peer Support? Peer-to-peer support occurs when we recognize shared experiences and make connections based on those experiences. It is grounded in real-world, natural interactions between individuals who come together to support and learn from one another (Gillard, 2019). Relationships with equal power dynamics, complementary roles of learning and offering support, and a “whole of life” versus an illness-focused approach are trademarks of peer-to-peer patient support (Gillard, 2019).
Why is it Valuable? Peer-to-peer patient support prioritizes community and relationships over individual change. Since peer support relationships are based on shared experiences, they often lead to increased empathy and respect. They provide opportunities for individuals to challenge stigmas, access valuable resources, and improve health outcomes (Naslund et al., 2016). Sometimes, we may not have it in us to offer support to others, and that’s okay. The beautiful thing about peer-to-peer support is that it’s reciprocal in nature. It allows us to ‘give’ when we can, and ‘take’ when we need to.
The importance of peer support is clear, which is why integrating social networking into patient support programs is invaluable. By connecting and empowering patients, peer-to-peer support can positively impact a patient’s journey or recovery by reducing loneliness, creating opportunities for peer mentor roles, and improving self-efficacy.
Why Now? Deciding to connect with others going through a similar experience represents a critical point in a patient’s health journey (Naslund et al., 2016). Sharing lived experiences can especially help patients feel connected and supported during times of isolation and vulnerability. That’s why the benefits of peer support are needed now more than ever. This became clear through Curatio’s 12-week Stronger Together program, which was designed to connect and empower patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half of participants reported feeling more supported after just four weeks, and improved self-efficacy, positive affect and wellbeing were secondary outcomes.
Learn More! Contact us for a brief overview on how private social health networks can connect and empower patients, increase adherence and improve outcomes!
Gillard, S. (2019). Peer support in mental health services: Where is the research taking us, and do we want to go there? Journal of Mental Health, 28(4), 341–344. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2019.1608935
Naslund, J., Aschbrenner, K., Marsch, L., & Bartels, S. (2016). The future of mental health care: Peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 25(2), 113-122. doi:10.1017/S2045796015001067