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Peer Support: a Human Factor to Enhance Engagement in Digital Health Behavior Change Interventions

  • Karen L. FortunaEmail author
  • Jessica M. Brooks
  • Emre Umucu
  • Robert Walker
  • Phillip I. Chow
Article

Abstract

The purpose of this report is to develop a theoretical model based on empirical evidence that can serve as a foundation for the science of peer-support factors that facilitate engagement in digital health interventions for people with serious mental illness (SMI). A review of the literature on how peer-support specialist interaction with consumers with SMI in digital health behavior change interventions enhances engagement. Unlike relationships with other health providers, peer-to-consumer relationships are based on reciprocal accountability —meaning that peer-support specialists and consumer mutually help and learn from each other. Under the recovery model of mental illness, reciprocal accountability suggests autonomy, flexible expectations, shared lived experience, and bonding influence engagement in digital interventions. Separate yet related components of reciprocal accountability in the context of digital health intervention engagement include (1) goal setting, (2) task agreement, and (3) bonding. Hope and sense of belonging are hypothesized moderators of peer-support factors in digital health interventions. Peer-support factors help people with SMI learn to live successfully both in the clinic and community. Peer-support specialists add value and complement traditional mental health treatment through their professional training and lived experience with a mental illness. The proposed model is a pioneering step towards understanding how peer-support factors impact engagement in digital health behavior change interventions among people with a lived experience of SMI. The model presents proposed factors underlying the reciprocal accountability processes in the context of digital health intervention engagement. This model and related support factors can be used to examine or identify research questions and hypotheses.

Keywords

Peer support Digital health Human factors Science of behavior change 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen L. Fortuna
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jessica M. Brooks
    • 3
  • Emre Umucu
    • 4
  • Robert Walker
    • 5
  • Phillip I. Chow
    • 6
  1. 1.The Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthConcordUSA
  2. 2.CDC Health Promotion Research Center at DartmouthLebanonUSA
  3. 3.James J. Peters VA Medical Center, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical CenterThe BronxUSA
  4. 4.Department of Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  5. 5.Massachusetts Department of Mental HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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