Peer support opportunities across the cancer care continuum: a systematic scoping review of recent peer-reviewed literature

Sarah D. Kowitt, Katrina R. Ellis, Veronica Carlisle, Nivedita L. Bhushan, Kristin Z. Black, Kaitlyn Brodar, Nicole M. Cranley, Kia L. Davis, Eugenia Eng, Michelle Y. Martin, Jared McGuirt, Rebeccah L. Sokol, Patrick Y. Tang, Anissa I. Vines, Jennifer S. Walker, Edwin B. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective: Evidence suggests peer support (PS) is as an effective strategy for enhancing prevention and control of chronic and infectious diseases, including cancer. This systematic scoping review examines the range and variety of interventions on the use of PS across the cancer care continuum. Method: We used a broad definition of PS to capture a wide-range of interventions and characterize the current status of the field. Literature searches were conducted using PubMed, SCOPUS, and CINAHL to identify relevant articles published from January 2011 to June 2016. We screened the title and abstracts of 2087 articles, followed by full-text screening of 420 articles, resulting in a final sample of 242 articles of which the most recent 100 articles were reviewed (published June 2014 to May 2016). Results: A number of the recent intervention studies focused on breast cancer (32%, breast cancer only) or multiple cancer sites (23%). Although the interventions spanned all phases of the cancer care continuum, only 2% targeted end-of-life care. Seventy-six percent focused on clinical outcomes (e.g., screening, treatment adherence) and 72% on reducing health disparities. Interventions were primarily phone-based (44%) or delivered in a clinic setting (44%). Only a few studies (22%) described the impact of providing PS on peer supporters. Conclusion: PS appears to be a widely used approach to address needs across the cancer care continuum, with many opportunities to expand its reach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Cancer
  • Community health workers
  • Navigator
  • Oncology
  • Peer support
  • Social support


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