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Research Questions

  1. What are the roles and functions of professional peers in peer-to-peer interventions in health care settings?
  2. Have specific considerations for health care providers in military settings been suggested?
  3. What are the approaches of professional peer-to-peer interventions for mental health and emotional support?
  4. What are the effects of provider-to-provider interventions on emotional support, organizational measures, or mental health outcomes in providers?

Health care providers are exposed to many of the same stresses experienced by their patients yet carry the additional responsibilities of providing high-quality, humanistic, and high-throughput health care. Provider burnout, stress, and mental health conditions can hinder provider and team functioning.

The authors of this report conducted three literature reviews focused on the evidence for peer-to-peer interventions for health care providers. They combine the results of these literature reviews with key informant input to explore peer-to-peer support interventions for professionals, including provider-to-provider interventions in health care organizations, and identify a promising intervention approach that may successfully support professionals.

Key Findings

Professional peers can play many roles in peer-to-peer support in health care settings

A key role of peers is being mentors and role models. Other roles and functions include peers as facilitators of group interactions, or serving in a counselor role and providing knowledge, guidance, and concrete tools to help set and/or reach goals. In addition, peers can provide resources, such as by connecting coworkers to crisis hotlines or wellness groups, and provide perspective for the receiver of the support intervention.

A wide variety of interventions involving peer-to-peer support have been explored

Approaches included peer support for health care professionals, peer coaching in education, peer-to-peer mentoring in sports, team support in business, psychological services for firefighters, peer supporter training in public organizations, faculty mentoring in academia, and support programs in the military context.

Studies of provider-to-provider interventions have addressed emotional support, organizational outcomes, and mental health outcomes, but the overall quality of evidence is low

Support systems for health care providers are in need of improvement.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Methods

  • Chapter Three

    Results

  • Chapter Four

    Discussion

  • Appendix A

    Search Strategy

  • Appendix B

    Key Informant Summaries

  • Appendix C

    Excluded Studies and Background Literature

  • Appendix D

    Evidence Tables

This research was sponsored by the Psychological Health Center of Excellence and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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