Role of peer support for people with a spinal cord injury
evidence and practice    

Role of peer support for people with a spinal cord injury

Lindsay O’Dell Senior lecturer, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, England
Sarah Earle Director, Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University Milton Keynes, England
Andy Rixon Lecturer in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, England
Alison Davies Research consultant in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To identify the physical and psychological challenges that people with a spinal cord injury may experience

  • To recognise the benefits of peer support for people with a spinal cord injury, as well as their family and friends

  • To understand how the provision of peer support services could be improved and expanded

Spinal cord injuries can result in significant physiological and psychological challenges for patients. Nurses have an important role in the rehabilitation of people with a spinal cord injury, as does the provision of peer support by people who are ‘living well’ after experiencing a spinal cord injury.

Aim To explore peer support and whether it can have an effective role in a multidisciplinary team approach to supporting a patient with a spinal cord injury.

Method This was an independent evaluation that used an online survey, a focus group and telephone interviews to elicit the views of respondents about the Spinal Injury Association (SIA) peer support service in England and Wales. There were four groups of respondents: people with a spinal cord injury; their family and friends; peer support officers; and nurse specialists and other healthcare practitioners.

Findings It was identified that peer support officers were valued for their ability to provide a positive role model for people with a spinal cord injury. Healthcare practitioners involved in the care of people with a spinal cord injury also appreciated the training and support they received from peer support officers.

Conclusion This evaluation demonstrated that peer support officers were regarded as an important element of a multidisciplinary team approach to managing the care of those who had experienced a spinal cord injury. Peer support officers were also considered a valuable source of information and education, particularly for healthcare practitioners working in settings where spinal cord injury was not a common presentation.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e10869

Citation

O’Dell L, Earle S, Rixon A et al (2018) Role of peer support for people with a spinal cord injury. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e10869

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

@healthwellbein4

Correspondence

lindsay.odell@open.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 27 November 2018

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