Peer Support Program for Cancer Clients – South Indian Experience

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJNR.2015.02.01.Art013

Authors : Yayathee Subbarayalu, Susila Chandrasekaran, Kanchana Khan, Santhanam T


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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