Global Conference Examines Outcomes on the Strength of Peer Support Programs

Leading Academic and Community Organizations Foster Dialogue on Improving Community Health and Reducing Gaps in Care

Jun 23, 2014, 14:20 ET from Peers for Progress

LEAWOOD, Kan. and WASHINGTON, June 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Peers for Progress, a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFPF), and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) gathered researchers and program leaders last week at a conference in San Francisco for an in-depth discussion, "Peer Support: Evidence and Directions Forward."

The conference brought together an unprecedented roster of international thought leaders and visionaries in the fields of peer support research and programming for diabetes and chronic disease management. Panelists discussed lessons and best practices learned from the field, the significant benefit peer support programs have shown in preventing disease and other chronic health conditions and their potential for reducing healthcare costs worldwide.  Peer support is available in different settings and provided by people with a variety of skills including community health workers, promotores de salud, health coaches and patient navigators.

"The time is right for a longer discussion on the health benefits of peer support," said Edwin Fisher, Ph.D., Global Director for Peers for Progress. "With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the United States and the pressing need for greater community and clinical health initiatives worldwide, these programs stand ready to improve lives, improve health and reduce costs."

Peer support programs have exhibited striking results when implemented in community and clinical health settings, especially where the chronic disease burden is great, and in populations that other programs often fail to reach, such as low-income groups. As Peers for Progress' last report, Peer Support: Evidence to Action, revealed, these programs can improve the quality of care patients receive, lower overall healthcare costs, and reduce health disparities. The report underscored peer support as a crucial component to successful community health programs in the United States, ultimately closing gaps in care.

"It is clear that peer support programs can make a difference in health outcomes, as we have seen with outreach in the Latino community. Learning from others who share experiences and live in the same community is beneficial for people who struggle with a chronic disease and may face barriers to accessing health care or making a lifestyle change," said A. Manuela McDonough, MPH, CPH, Associate Director of NCLR's Institute for Hispanic Health (IHH).

A forthcoming report will capture insights and findings from last week's conference.  The report will detail how peer support can be especially effective in reaching those whom health programs too often fail to engage, such as populations with lower levels of education, with more distress in their lives or who have trouble taking care of their health. The conference report will offer models on how peer support from community health workers, promotores de salud and others can help health systems achieve the goal of providing better care.

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, or follow us on Twitter at @peers4progress

About the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation
The Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Its primary mission is to advance the values of family medicine by promoting humanitarian, educational, and scientific initiatives that improve the health of all people.

For more information, please visit

About the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
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, or follow on Facebook and on Twitter at @nclr.

SOURCE Peers for Progress