LEAWOOD, Kan. and WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just as seven million Americans obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Peers for Progress and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today released a report that examines how peer support programs improve health outcomes by boosting outreach and education for disease prevention and management. The report, "Peer Support in Health – Evidence to Action," is a guide for health care organizations developing peer support programs that will help people with health problems live healthier lives. Peer support programs are located throughout the U.S. and are included in the ACA as a way to improve health care quality and reduce costs.
The report summarizes findings from the first annual conference of the National Peer Support Collaborative Learning Network. The conference, under the leadership of Peers for Progress, a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, and NCLR, convened leaders in health care and peer support to discuss current strengths and future needs in the field.
"We are proud of this report and our work with NCLR to advance an important model of care that makes a difference in the lives of patients," said Edwin Fisher, Ph.D., Global Director for Peers for Progress. "As state and local communities implement the ACA's provisions and face a marked increase in the number of patients, peer support programs will be fundamental to success. We must ensure that peer support programs are reimbursed and available to all."
Peer support programs hold great promise to help people lead healthier, more satisfying lives and achieve the goals of health reform. As the report documents, these programs have quantifiable success in improving the quality of care, lowering costs and reducing health disparities. They help individuals prevent and improve the management of disease through engagement and particularly benefit populations, such as low income groups, that other programs fail to reach. Included in the report is a review of 14 programs for adults with diabetes that demonstrated an average reduction in a key measure of blood sugar control, HbA1c, of 0.86 points, a marked improvement over the 0.50 point reduction that is considered clinically significant.
"Peer support programs are critical to improved health. The promotores de salud model, which prepares lay health educators for community outreach, has proven effective in helping Latinos get access to health care and make lifestyle changes to curb the rising rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity," said A. Manuela McDonough, MPH, CPH, Associate Director of NCLR's Institute for Hispanic Health (IHH). "We expect that our health care system will increasingly rely on peer supporters, like the promotores, to fully engage with underserved communities and help improve health and overall well-being."
The Latino community can particularly benefit from the health and wellness messages distributed through peer support programs. Nearly 80 percent of Hispanics are overweight and almost 40 percent are obese, risk factors that contribute to a high rate of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
As shown by Peers for Progress, effective peer support programs assist patients in daily self-care, link patients to appropriate clinical and community resources and provide ongoing social and emotional support. The inaugural report provides insights across multiple programs with approaches for scaling up and maintaining comprehensive, versatile peer support programs for populations. The report is available at http://bit.ly/1fMOkpz.
About Peers for Progress
A program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, Peers for Progress is dedicated to promoting peer support in health, health care and prevention around the world. Through research, collaborative sharing of program and quality improvement resources, and supporting advocacy, it seeks to help the thousands of peer support programs around the world learn from each other, improve the services they offer, gain greater recognition of their work, and achieve integration of peer support as a normal, widely available component of high-quality health care. For more information on Peers for Progress, visit www.peersforprogress.org, or follow us on Twitter.
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Peers for Progress