Peer support is a method often used in diabetes support and education programs to improve good health and wellbeing among people with diabetes. However, the evidence is insufficient to determine which peer support elements that are effective and the specific approaches to facilitation of peer support are often not explicitly described. Obtaining the experience of diabetes-specific social capital is one important outcome of peer support. However, little is known about how to enhance diabetes-specific social capital. The aim of this study was to explore facilitators of diabetes-specific social capital through peer support in group meetings. Data consisted of audio recordings of plenary discussions from eight peer support meetings conducted in a diabetes specialist clinic and researchers’ observation notes from the meetings. Furthermore, 25 of 30 participants were interviewed. Participants consisted of a group of adults with type 1 diabetes treated with insulin pump. Systematic text condensation was used to analyze data, showing that participants’ experiences of diabetes-specific social capital related to feeling trust, collectiveness, reciprocity and relevant experience sharing. The overall mechanisms found to facilitate diabetes-specific capital related to the provision of 1) practical and concrete insights 2) focused experience sharing and 3) an open and safe forum to talk about diabetes. Specific facilitators included opportunities for participants to e.g., show and tell how they managed diabetes, demonstrating practical diabetes routines during the meetings, experience diversity in how to manage diabetes and be able to joke about diabetes.
This study highlights concrete facilitators of diabetes-specific peer support which makes a significant positive difference to quality of everyday life with diabetes. Further studies are needed to explore in depth the effect of these mechanisms on emotional as well as physical health in larger and various diabetes populations.
L.E. Joensen: None. M. Overgaard: None. K. Nørgaard: Advisory Panel; Self; Abbott, Medtronic, Novo Nordisk A/S. Speaker's Bureau; Self; Bayer US, Medtronic, Roche Diabetes Care, Rubin Medical, Sanofi, Zealand Pharma A/S. Stock/Shareholder; Self; Novo Nordisk A/S. I. Willaing: None.