This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Exercise After Burn Injury. Jeffrey Schneider, MD, researcher, discusses The Value of Peer Support.

Jeffrey Schneider, M.D.

Project Director, Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System Center

Medical Director, Burn & Trauma, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Peer support is — and the more we learn about this, the more I think we understand this. It’s really been a crucial piece to a lot of people’s recovery. You know, I can do all I can and all my colleagues to help people recover from an injury as a physician or a clinician of different sorts. But having never been through it myself personally, there are things that someone who has been through a burn injury can, you know, provide to another burn survivor that I can’t.

And I think it’s invaluable. Having had the chance to get to know a lot of these peer supporters and other burn survivors that I’ve taken care of that have gone on and, you know, met and worked with a lot of the other burn survivors that I’ve taken care of, I mean people find this a really crucial part of their recovery.

And in terms of re-engaging in physical activity and developing an exercise program, you know, they’re able to impart with them their own experiences about what worked for them. And I think when another burn survivor sees just an ordinary person who’s been through something similar and understands what works for them, that means a lot to them. It can give them sort of inspiration. You know, this is something that’s doable that I can accomplish. I don’t need to necessarily be a world-class athlete or, you know — to accomplish this. This is something that other people who are similar to me can accomplish as well.

This area of peer support is something we’re just beginning to study on a research basis. And a lot of the findings we have so far point all to positive things, which is that people who are engaged in peer support seem to have better outcomes. You know, especially when we look at long‑term outcomes like how people do re-engaging in their communities, you know, their personal lives, back at work, in their social lives, and so in general quality of life. So there’s nothing as opposed to a lot of the other interventions we prescribe, I don’t see many negatives that come with this, only positive.

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