Clinical Psychiatry Open Access

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Peer-Led Interventions in Health and Well-Being: A Review of Effectivenes

Keith J. Topping*

Peer education and peer counselling have existed as complements to intervention for health and wellbeing by doctors, nurses and other professional staff for many decades, but only in recent times has effectiveness research become satisfactory. These methods have potential advantages in penetrating contexts where professionals cannot, but this means establishing effectiveness is complex. This study evaluates 58 reviews (narrative and systematic reviews and meta-analyses) on this issue. In peer education, many reviews of sexual health and of HIV/AIDS interventions were found, with smaller numbers of reviews of certain medical conditions and the prison context. In peer counselling, reviews of breast feeding and mental health were evident. Earlier reviews tended to complain of lack of research; later reviews established knowledge gains but no gains in attitudes; still later reviews discovered both knowledge and attitude gains; and most recently there was evidence of knowledge, attitude and behaviour gains. Peer education and counselling are effective in certain areas (but effectiveness is unknown in other areas), and then only if projects are well managed and the cultural context taken into account. Action implications for research, practice and policy were suggested.

Published Date: 2022-07-12; Received Date: 2022-06-14