Co-developing peer interventions in health-related contexts.A case study from exercise referral

Robert M. Portman*, Andrew R. Levy, Anthony J. Maher, Stuart J. Fairclough

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Peer support interventions can be successful in enhancing physical activity (PA) in a variety of health-related contexts. However, the evidence base remains equivocal, and ways to integrate structured peer support within the context of exercise referral schemes (ERSs) remain unexplored. In this regard, few studies consider the prospective acceptability of peer support interventions. Prior qualitative exploration can elicit insight into factors likely to influence peer intervention success, thus maximising the likelihood of developing and implementing effective peer support interventions. This study assessed the prospective acceptability of a peer support intervention for exercise referral. Design/Setting: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 ERS clients (n = 10) and providers (n = 4) across two ERS sites in the North West of England, UK. Method: Interviews covered preferred demographic and personal characteristics of ERS peers and prospective peer roles. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: A desirable ERS peer was perceived as someone who was positive and empathetic, with good interpersonal skills. ERS peers were considered to present a promising opportunity to enhance the accessibility of emotional, motivational and informational support among ERS clients while alleviating burden on ERS providers. Conclusion: Study findings have relevance to the integration of peer support in comparable ERS contexts, highlighting the value of developmental research to refine peer recruitment criteria and to facilitate ownership and support among providers across a variety of health-related contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Education Journal
Early online date18 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sept 2021


  • Co-development
  • exercise referral
  • health
  • peer support
  • physical activity


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