Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care
Transforming health care through partnerships

Peer Support Research

Hospitals and communities across the country have created peer support programs in response to patients, families, and caregivers asking to talk with someone who has lived their present experience. Testimony from parents, patients, families, and caregivers—and the commitment of leadership in hospitals and communities across the country—are the driving force behind the growing peer support movement. Research confirms the value of peer support for families with children who have a disability, patients with chronic illnesses, and those just learning about a diagnosis of cancer. More research on the efficacy of peer support is needed to advance peer support as an evidence-based component of health care.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent organization created to help people make informed health care decisions and improve health care delivery. PCORI identifies critical research questions, funds patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER), and disseminates the results. PCORI's emphasis is on engaging patients and the broader health care community in its work, and providing awards that encourage patient engagement in CER.

Learn about PCORI's currently funded peer research projects.

The Journal of Medical Internet Research offers a collection of published research on Peer-to-Peer Support and Online Communities.

Global Evidence for Peer Support: Humanizing Health Care, Report from an International Conference. Peers for Progress and the National Council of La Raza hosted a conference in June 2014, bringing together investigators from 14 research projects that Peers for Progress funded in 9 countries on 6 continents along with thought leaders from around the world.This conference was an international platform to discuss the latest findings and explore new areas for research, dissemination, and implementation.This report synthesizes the evidence accumulated and the insights gleaned from the diverse global experience, research findings, and practical wisdom of those assembled.

Additional Selected Research

Levick, J., Quinn, M., Vennema, C. (2014). NICU Parent-to-parent partnerships: a comprehensive approach. Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 66-73.

Long, J.A., Jahnle, E.C., Richardson, D.M., Loewenstein, G., Volpp, K.G. (2012). Peer mentoring and financial incentives to improve glucose control in African American veterans: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(6):416-424. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-156-6-201203200-00004.

Hartzler, A., Pratt, W., (2011). Managing the personal side of health; How patient expertise differs from the expertise of clinicians. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol 13, No 3 July-Sept.

Giese-Davis, J., Bliss-Isberg, C., Carson, K., Star, P., Donaghy, J., Cordova, M.J., Stevens, N., Wittenberg, L., Batten, C., Spiegel, D. (2006). The effect of peer counseling on quality of life following diagnosis of breast cancer: An observational study. Psycho-Oncology, Vol 15, Issue 1, 1044-1022. Doi: 10.1002/pon.1037.

Perry, E., Swartz, J., Brown, S., Smith, D., Kelly, G., Swartz, R. (2005). Peer mentoring: A culturally sensitive approach to end-of-life planning for long-term dialysis patients. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, Vol. 46 (1), 111-119.

Singer, G., Marquis, J., Powers, L., Blanchard, L., DiVenere, N., Santelli, N., Ainbinder, J. & Sharp, M. (1999). A Multi-site evaluation of parent to parent programs for parents of children with disabilities. Journal of Early Intervention, 22(3), 217-229.

Ainbinder, J., Blanchard, L., Singer, G.H.S., Sullivan, M., Powers, L., & Marquis, J., & Santelli, B. (1998). How parents help one another: A qualitative study of parent to parent self-help. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 23, 99-109.

See also Resources