Exploring peer-mentoring for community dwelling older adults with chronic low back pain: a qualitative study

K. Cooper, Patricia Schofield, Susan Klein, B. H. Smith, L. M. Jehu

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    To explore the perceptions of patients, physiotherapists, and potential peer mentors on the topic of peer-mentoring for self-management of chronic low back pain following discharge from physiotherapy.


    Exploratory, qualitative study.


    Twelve patients, 11 potential peer mentors and 13 physiotherapists recruited from physiotherapy departments and community locations in one health board area of the UK.


    Semi-structured interviews and focus groups.

    Main outcome measures

    Participants’ perceptions of the usefulness and appropriateness of peer-mentoring following discharge from physiotherapy. Data were processed and analysed using the framework method.


    Four key themes were identified: (i) self-management strategies, (ii) barriers to self-management and peer-mentoring, (iii) vision of peer-mentoring, and (iv) the voice of experience. Peer-mentoring may be beneficial for some older adults with chronic low back pain. Barriers to peer-mentoring were identified, and many solutions for overcoming them. No single format was identified as superior; participants emphasised the need for any intervention to be flexible and individualised. Important aspects to consider in developing a peer-mentoring intervention are recruitment and training of peer mentors and monitoring the mentor–mentee relationship.


    This study has generated important knowledge that is being used to design and test a peer-mentoring intervention on a group of older people with chronic low back pain and volunteer peer mentors. If successful, peer-mentoring could provide a cost effective method of facilitating longer-term self-management of a significant health condition in older people.
    Original languageUndefined
    Early online date26 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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