Peer support for people with advanced cancer: a systematically constructed scoping review of quantitative and qualitative evidence

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The number of people living with advanced cancer is increasing, and appropriate support to this population is essential. Peer support is increasingly advocated as a component of care, but little is known about how to provide this in the context of advanced cancer. This review describes the experience and impact of different forms of peer support for people with advanced cancer.

Recent findings

Data from 22 articles were reviewed, primarily descriptive studies. They describe three forms of peer support (one-to-one, group, and online), reaching primarily those who are women, middle-aged, and well educated. Only two studies focused on support to people with advanced cancer, but those with advanced cancer were frequent users of all forms of peer support. Benefits of peer support were described, but no data were presented to allow a determination of the best form of support for people with advanced cancer.

Summary

Practitioners can be assured that peer support is likely to be beneficial and provide care that complements that of clinicians. However, there is a need for a comprehensive programme of high-quality evaluative research of peer support for people with advanced cancer.

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