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The value of peer support for self-management of diabetes among veterans in the Empowering Patients In Chronic care intervention.

Arney JB, Odom E, Brown C, Jones L, Kamdar N, Kiefer L, Hundt N, Gordon HS, Naik AD, Woodard LD. The value of peer support for self-management of diabetes among veterans in the Empowering Patients In Chronic care intervention. Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association. 2020 May 1; 37(5):805-813.

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AIM: To examine the value of peer support in the self-management of diabetes among veterans in an integrated health care system. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with veterans and clinicians 6 months after their participation in Empowering Patients in Chronic Care (EPIC), a group-based diabetes intervention with a peer-support component. Interviews elicited clinicians'' narratives of how peer support unfolded in the groups and veterans'' experiences of giving and receiving support from their peers. Data analysis was guided by principles of framework analysis using Heisler''s peer-support model. RESULTS: Findings support Heisler''s peer-support model and provide evidence supporting professional-led group visits with peer exchange. Clinicians and veterans endorsed informational and emotional support received in EPIC groups. Clinicians often referred to EPIC as an open forum or a support group where veterans could both give and receive help. Veterans noted the benefits of shared problem-solving and the support they received. Clinicians and veterans perceived the peer-support component of EPIC as facilitating increased empowerment in terms of self-efficacy, increased perceived social support and increased understanding of self-care. Ultimately, many veterans acknowledged that their participation in EPIC facilitated improved health-related quality of life, improved health behaviours and improved chronic disease control. CONCLUSIONS: Findings emphasize the value of peer support in managing chronic illness. Peer-support programmes may address veterans'' unique challenges and have the potential to improve physical and mental health.

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