Using peer mentoring for people with spinal cord injury to enhance self-efficacy beliefs and prevent medical complications

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Aims and objectives.Individuals with spinal cord injury/disease are faced with a myriad of psychosocial adjustment challenges. This article describes the implementation of a peer-mentoring programme designed to support this adjustment process for people with SCI/disease and the programme's believed impact on self-efficacy and prevention of medical complications.Background.With shorter length of stay in acute inpatient rehabilitation after spinal cord injury/disease, peer mentor programmes are becoming an important component to assist with education and community re-integration.Design.Quasi-experimental non-controlled pretest/post-test.Method.Patients with newly acquired spinal cord injury/disease participated in a one- year spinal cord injury peer-mentoring programme. Peer mentors met with their assigned participants regularly during inpatient care and on discharge to track medical complications and assist with adjusting to life after spinal cord injury/disease.Results.In all, of 37 mentees enrolled, 24 successfully completed the programme. Sixty-seven per cent showed improved self-efficacy score between the two time points. Medical complications and doctor visits all decreased significantly between 0-6 months and 7-12 months. Our findings indicate that the older an individual is, the lower the likelihood of having a urinary tract infection (p = 0.006). The programme was well received by all mentees who felt they could connect well with their peer mentor.Conclusion.Peer mentoring in a rehabilitation setting enhances the understanding of challenges that patients and medical staff deal with on a day-to-day basis. Our findings suggest it is important to monitor and educate individuals with spinal cord injury/disease at the acute stage to improve medical outcomes. Caution is advised in the interpretation of these results as they were obtained in a small non-random sample using self-report data.Relevance to clinical practice.Peer mentors play an increasingly important role in nurse-delivered education in the spinal cord injury/disease population.

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