Published: 23 March 2020

Authors: Gabriella Tikellis,Joanna Y.T. Lee,Tamera J. Corte,Jamie Maloney,Michael Bartlett,Tonia Crawford,Ian N. Glaspole,Nicole Goh,Kelcie Herrmann,Alison J. Hey-Cunningham,Greg Keir,Yet H. Khor,John Price,Debra G. Sandford,Lissa Spencer,Alan Teoh,Jennifer Walsh,Susanne Webster,Anne E. Holland

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 189


    Background and objective

    People living with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) report unmet needs for information and support. Lung Foundation Australia (LFA) have developed the Peer Connect Service to facilitate telephone support for people with PF across Australia. This project documented the experiences of participants and the resources required to support the service.


    Consenting participants took part in semi-structured interviews by telephone. Primary peers (peers who agreed to initiate contact) and secondary peers (eligible patients who sought a peer match) were interviewed. Thematic analysis was undertaken by two independent researchers. Data were collected on the number of matches and contacts required to establish each match.


    Interviews were conducted with 32 participants (16 primary peers, 15 secondary peers and 1 who was both), aged from 53 to 89 years with 56% being male. Major themes included the value of shared experiences, providing mutual support and the importance of shared personal characteristics (e.g. gender and hobbies) in allowing information and emotional support needs to be met. Participants saw face-to-face contact with peers as highly desirable whilst acknowledging the practical difficulties. Primary peers were cognizant that their role was not to provide medical advice but to listen and share experiences. In the 12-month period, 60 peer matches were made, each match requiring a minimum of seven staff contacts.


    The Peer Connect Service provides a unique opportunity for people with PF to share experiences and offer mutual support. This telephone matching model may be useful in providing peer support for individuals with rare diseases who are geographically dispersed.

    Link to abstract

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