Peer work works.


“Despite the apparent value of peer education and its widespread involvement within harm reduction initiatives for illicit drug users, there is a lack of research about the factors that contribute to the success of these initiatives and of the processes and approaches that could be considered best practices.”

Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force in Peer Manual, A guide for peer workers and agencies

 

Peer work has not only been acknowledged as effective by those working in the field, but numerous research studies have proven its international success.

However, it is important to remember that peer involvement (no matter how perfectly designed and implemented) is not a complete solution to major health/social issues like mental health problems, health inequalities or social exclusion. It should be seen as one component of a range of interventions, programmes and policies.  A discussion of the challenges and limitations of peer work can be found here:  WHY?/Challenges and limitations

The diversity of the different kinds of peer-led practices is huge and research is often limited to specific types of peer-led interventions:  there are few studies that cover the overall concept.


However, the existing research on peer-led interventions and the benefits to peer workers can be a very useful resource when implementing peer support work projects.