This program appealed to me greatly. When I was first diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) I would have appreciated meeting someone who could give me tips and a viewpoint about RA based on life experience. What I wished for was a friend who could help me.
Upon diagnosis I knew very little and had no support. My doctor at the time was a good source of information but interactions with him were limited. It was lucky for me that I was admitted to hospital when I was diagnosed to start aggressive therapy. There I met a support team of professionals. Since this was before easy access to the internet they and my doctor were the only help I had.
After 10 years with RA I finally began educating myself about my health problems and the health system. When I volunteered to join the Peer Mentor program one prerequisite for participation was taking the Arthritis Self Management Program through The Arthritis Society. Though it seemed like a formality at first I learned from the program and from the other patients.
Of course for a research study the knowledge level among the mentors had to be consistent so all participants were in for some serious training. When the training started I was presented with a five pound binder full of resources and information and participated in amazingly good instruction with the other mentors and the research team.
The program was terrific for me. I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to help someone with Early Inflammatory Arthritis without being too overwhelmed. Another great piece of learning was to stop and listen more. If you talk too much you never hear anything. In fact what I learned about goal setting was a big help to me in my working life as well.
The other mentors who I met in the program had such a diversity of strengths. Everyone contributed to the learning process.
Here is a brief overview from The Arthritis Society site:
http://www.arthritis.ca/research/summary/PeertoPeer Peer to Peer Mentoring for Individuals with Early Inflammatory Arthritis (EIA)
And here are the papers published by Dr. Mary Bell and the team:
The experience and impact of chronic disease peer support interventions: A qualitative synthesis
Peer To Peer Mentoring: Facilitating Individuals with Early Inflammatory Arthritisto Manage Their Arthritis – Exploring Learning and Support Needs
Peer-to-peer mentoring for individuals with EIA: feasibility pilot