"I help you, and you help me": facilitated telephone peer support among patients with diabetes

Diabetes Educ. 2005 Nov-Dec;31(6):869-79. doi: 10.1177/0145721705283247.


Purpose: The feasibility and acceptability of using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR)-based platform to facilitate peer support among older adults with diabetes was evaluated.

Methods: Diabetes patients with poor glycemic control receiving care at a Veterans' Affairs medical center completed a baseline survey, received rudimentary training, and were matched based on their diabetes-related self-management needs. They were asked to contact their partner weekly using the toll-free IVR calling line. At the completion of the 6-week period, participants completed follow-up surveys and brief telephone interviews.

Results: Forty of 76 patients screened for eligibility by telephone agreed to participate, and 38 completed the 6-week intervention (50% of eligible patients). More than 80% of the pairs spoke at least once a week for 2 of the 6 weeks of the intervention. A total of 79% of the participants reported that the IVR system was easy to use, and 90% stated that they would be more satisfied with their health care if this type of peer support service were available. Of the participants, 70% found the calls helpful in managing diabetes symptoms, 73% reported that their partner helped them improve their self-care, and 70% stated that they helped their partner do things to stay healthy. There were significant improvements in participants' reported diabetes self-care self-efficacy between baseline and follow-up assessments (P < .01). Qualitative assessments suggested that participants found meaning and positive reinforcement for their own self-care through supporting their partner's efforts to manage diabetes.

Conclusions: An IVR peer support intervention is feasible, acceptable to patients, and may have positive effects on patients' diabetes self-management and health outcomes that warrant more rigorous evaluation in a randomized trial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Telephone*