Background/Purpose: Peer support program for
cancer clients was well known and accepted one all over the world. In India
peer support for cancer is informal and not as a support model in
care. Clients show good coping with peer support. A journey started with
an aim of bringing in standard training program for peer support in India and
to make them as part of healing team.
Methods: A Training module was
prepared with expert validation. The criteria’s for becoming volunteer were
completed treatment successfully, healthy on regular follow up, completed at
least primary education and willing to spend one hour in a day. A 2 half day
workshop with pre test of self rated skill checklist followed by post test
evaluation of self after one month and client rating of satisfaction with peer
was planned. Incentives were provided for undergoing the training and also for
providing peer support. Informed consent was obtained.
Results: Peer identification
process was a huge challenge as people are stigmatized over the diagnosis and
not willing to volunteer even with incentives. In about 3 months, 40 eligible
clients were asked and only 5 clients with breast cancer consented for
training. Training was given and they faced difficulty with providing face to
face support which was changed into telephonic support. Clients and peers
expressed satisfaction over the process. The Initial hiccup was overcome and
now many volunteers willing to undergo training.
Conclusion: A formal training
program for peer support has been initiated in India and effectiveness is being
tested with a randomized trial and results so far are promising for the care of
clients with cancer.
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