Background: Individuals living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) report a desire for supportive interactions with peers. However, there is little research on the outcomes of these interactions. The purpose of this study was to identify the outcomes discussed in peer support interactions in individuals with COPD through a scoping review methodology.
Methods: Literature searches from six databases produced 4,999 possible articles. Twenty-three studies, including four clinical trials, were included in the analysis.
Results: The majority of the articles were written after 2006 (n=17) and included 11 qualitative, nine quantitative, and three mixed-methods studies. The published articles were broken down into two categories: those that evaluated a peer support intervention (n=11); and those that reported on informal peer support interactions (n=8). Within the quantitative articles of the peer support interventions (n=6), disease specific and overall health-related quality of life and six-minute walk distance increased pre-post intervention. In the qualitative evaluations of the peer support interventions (n=5) individuals reported gaining a way to: share experiences, build community, accept their disease, and become an advocate for COPD. The informal peer support interaction studies indicated that peers were important for creating meaningful connections and feeling understood.
Conclusion: Peer support interventions with individuals living with COPD can improve traditional outcomes (e.g., quality of life) but can also help foster positive social outcomes (e.g., advocacy).Yet, there is still a lack of understanding of how peer support can be best integrated into interventions and how peer support can influence individuals' willingness to participate in their community.