Peer mentees' perceptions of the effect of peer mentorship on their participation in daily activities after spinal cord injury


Peer mentorship has been reported to enhance participation in daily activities for adults with a spinal cord injury (SCI). However, researchers have rarely employed methods that allow these individuals to articulate how and why their peer mentorship experiences impacted their participation. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the peer mentorship experiences of adults with SCI. Thirteen adults with SCI who were peer mentored each participated in a semi-structured interview. Interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes, and the audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and stored using NVivo. The interview data were inductively analyzed following Braun and Clarke's (2013) guidelines for thematic analysis. Several themes (identified in parenthesis) related to their peer mentorship experiences emerged. Participants indicated that their peer mentors helped them gain access to important resources which helped them overcome obstacles to participation (instrumental support). They revealed that while peer mentors worked differently than other health professionals, both were important contributors to their overall well-being and participation (role of health professionals). Peer mentees also expressed that talking to their peer mentors helped them feel like they were not alone while undergoing rehabilitation and adjusting to life with a SCI (feeling connected). Interacting with their mentors also allowed mentees to gain a positive perspective on the possibility to participate in "normal" daily activities while living with a SCI (living a normal life). The results provide a preliminary understanding of the role of SCI peer mentors on participation.

Acknowledgments: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada