To support and to be supported. A qualitative study of peer support centres in cancer care in Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPatient Education and Counseling. 2017. 10.1016/j.pec.2017.11.013
Objective: To explore what peer supporters, patients and their relatives want and gain from peer support in cancer care. Methods: Focus group interviews with peer supporters, and in-depth interviews with peer supporters, patients and relatives (N=38) and observations of daily activities in a Vardesenter (“Cairn Centre”). Results: Peer supporters helped cancer patients and relatives with coping in and outside the hospital in several ways: (1) conveying hope and providing ways to cope in situations where despair would often be prevalent, thus protecting against unhealthy stress; (2) being someone who had had the same experiences of disease and treatment, and thus providing a framework for positive social comparisons; and (3) to be an important supplement to family and health care providers. To be working as a peer supporter was also found to be positive and important for the peer supporters themselves. Conclusion: The peer support program represented a valuable supplement to informal support from family and friends and healthcare providers, and gave the peer supporters a new role as “professionally unprofessional”. Practice implications: Organised peer support represents a feasible intervention to promote coping for cancer survivors.