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The role of peer support in facilitating psychosocial adjustment to chronic illness in adolescence
journal contributionposted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Craig OlssonCraig Olsson, M Boyce, John ToumbourouJohn Toumbourou, S Sawyer
This article describes a Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) programme designed to assist young people in their adjustment to life with a chronic medical condition. The ChIPS programme takes a non-categorical approach to participation, recognizing that young people with different medical conditions experience many similar concerns. Support groups are facilitated by a health professional and peer co-leader. Groups meet weekly for 8 weeks and typically include between six and eight young people. Young people can choose to remain involved in broader social, educational and recreational activities following completion of the 8-week programme. We discuss nine psychosocial mechanisms by which peer support groups such as ChIPS might act to improve resilience and well-being among participants. We also discuss some theoretical risks in running support groups for chronically ill young people, which emphasize the importance of training and support of group leaders, including the peer co-leaders. The article concludes with a personal testimony by a ChIPS participant that was prepared for the 2003 Australian and New Zealand Adolescent Health Conference.