Source: WHYY Radio, April 16, 2012
CHIBE investigator Judith Long and colleagues compared measures of diabetes control among three groups of diabetic veterans at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. One group received usual care, one group received a financial incentive plus usual care, and one group received usual care plus they were matched with a peer mentor who contacted them once a week. On average, the peer mentored group had better diabetes control after six months than the group that received usual care, or the group that received financial incentives. Though more research is needed, it seems that peer mentors are an inexpensive, beneficial addition to the healthcare physicians can provide diabetic patients during an office visit.
Judith Long comments on her study that showed improved glucose control among African-American males through peer mentoring. She noted that "peer mentoring may be particularly effective in minority communities where there is a history of distrust in the system" and that "compared to whites, African-Americans are more likely to trust information from community contacts then they are from health care providers."
A study recently published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that peer mentoring improved diabetes control among African American Vets. Judith Long, Principal Investigator of the study, commented in a New York Times article that "peer mentoring is an inexpensive, easy and patient-centered way we doctors can support healthy behaviors outside of our offices." Kevin Volpp adds that that their study "raises the possibility that a more informal, flexible means of providing one-on-one peer support through peer coaches or mentors could potentially provide larger benefits at low cost."