Lay health mentors in community-based older adult disability prevention programs: provider perspectives

Dossa A, Capitman JA.  Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA.  Res Gerontol Nurs. 2011 Apr;4(2):106-16. doi: 10.3928/19404921-20100729-01. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

In this study, we explored provider perspectives on the benefits of and implementation challenges in using lay health mentor peers in a community-based replication of an efficacious 12-month older adult disability prevention program. In addition, we describe the association of the mentor program with site features and program completion. We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with nurses, social workers, and site managers and obtained primary data on site features and secondary data on program completion. Major themes included the importance of the health mentor program and implementation challenges. Sites with mentor programs were more likely to have older adults complete the program compared with sites without mentor programs. Rural, small, and less diverse sites were more likely to have health mentor programs than urban, large, and more diverse sites. Implications include a need to fund more lay health mentor programs, obtain adequate staffing including minority staff for health mentor support, and implement strategies to improve program efficiency.