Peer Support to the Rescue
The number of people living with diabetes is consistently growing despite having so many prevention and awareness campaigns. This is a group of people that are diverse in nature since diabetes can occur in anyone no matter the age, ethnicity, nationality, culture or language. Those that are affected sometimes may not be aware of what to expect from being part of this group of people that also have diabetes. Since this is such a diverse group having peer support can be helpful.
What is peer support?
Peer support is getting support from someone who has a similar experience or knowledge with the same characteristics from that specific population. It is being able to look toward those around you with a similar background and gaining information on the same topic. So for instance, this could be someone with diabetes sharing their experience and knowledge with others who have diabetes. There are many ways in which peer support can be modeled such as face-to-face programs, peer coaching, telephone-based peer support, and web- or email-based peer support. This has become a mainstream way for people all over the world with similar backgrounds to find support or knowledge. There is no right or wrong way to do peer support since there is no “one size fits all” approach.
Why is having peer support important for my diabetes management?
The key to improving diabetes outcomes is through lifestyle behaviors such as diet, exercise, self-monitoring and following medication regimens. When it comes to programs that help with these lifestyle behaviors, they often just tell you what to do instead of helping you change the behaviors. The hardest part is making changes in your lifestyle regarding long-time habits. So, having peer support helps you to develop effective management over time. It gives you the support of others dealing with the same real-world environment and circumstances that influence lifestyle behaviors.