Peers for Progress believes that ongoing peer support can be a key factor in managing health. The organization hosts a website that is the go-to source for cutting edge content, program materials and research briefs related to peer support.
[Photo: Dr. Edwin Fisher (left) consults with Mr. Patrick Yao Tang, program manager of Peers for Progress.]
“When Peers for Progress was launched in 2008, our vision was to create a website (peersforprogress.org) where professionals and the general public could go to learn about the science behind peer support,” said Dr. Edwin Fisher, professor of health behavior at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and global director of Peers for Progress. “We wanted to help people access best practices from the field, network with other peer-support programs around the world and participate in advocacy that advances the role of peer support in health, health care and prevention.”
The original website was developed under the auspices of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, which hosted Peers for Progress during the early years of its growth. Today, the website is one of the top search engine results for “peer support” and attracts roughly 3,000 monthly visitors from around the world.
The launch of a rebranded website reflects the fact that, in December 2015, Peers for Progress officially became part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, based in the Gillings School and in the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine.
Over time, Dr. Fisher and his colleagues at Peers for Progress plan to add content to the site that highlights additional UNC programs and activities that utilize and set global models for peer support.
“The website is primarily meant for researchers and program managers who are interested in peer support and wish to learn about the field,” Dr. Fisher explained. “Through our digital portal, they can access resources and models for program development and share findings that advance understanding of the role peer support can play in health interventions.”
Dr. Fisher announced the new website February 9-10 while participating in two meetings with the Nesta Health Lab (#NestaHealthLab) in London. On February 9, he joined Dr. David Halpern, chief executive of the British Government’s Behavioural Insights Team, to give a presentation on “Behavioural Change in Future Health and Care Systems.”
On February 10, Dr. Fisher joined Nesta in hosting the first meeting of a network of diabetes-focused peer support programs from across northern Europe. Representatives from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, and the United Kingdom exchanged resources, program models and benefits evaluations.
Dr. Fisher hopes the summit will grow into an ongoing network for the exchange of program ideas, models and evaluations as the mutual promotion of peer support grows on both sides of the Atlantic.