Nursing and Allied Health Staff Perceptions and Experiences of a Volunteer Stroke Peer Support Program: A Qualitative Study



Stroke brings about physical, cognitive, and psychosocial changes and, consequently, many stroke survivors feel underprepared for the transition from hospital to home. Nursing and allied health staff have a key role in stroke rehabilitation. Peer support programs have been found effective in supporting stroke survivors, alongside hospital staff caring for stroke patients, by providing experiential knowledge that staff are not able to provide.


This study explored the perceptions and experiences of nursing and allied health staff of a volunteer peer support program for stroke inpatients.
Methods: This study utilised a qualitative, evaluative case study design. This study was conducted at a public metropolitan hospital in Western Australia that had developed a stroke peer support program (SPSP) on a rehabilitation ward. A purposeful sample of nurses (n = 5) and multidisciplinary allied health staff (n = 5) were recruited from the ward where the SPSP was provided for stroke inpatients. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with staff participants. Verbatim transcripts from audio-recorded interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.


Nursing and allied health staff perceived the SPSP as valuable to stroke patients’ rehabilitation and beneficial to families, volunteer peers and staff. Four themes encapsulated the findings: awareness of and involvement in the program; recognising the benefits of the program; perceived enablers and barriers of the program and suggestions for the future of the program.


Nursing and allied health staff within multidisciplinary teams are cognisant of the psycho-emotional needs of stroke patients which staff are not fully able to meet. The study findings confirm volunteer peer support can provide valuable and fundamental adjunct support to address stroke patients’ unmet needs, as well as supporting staff to enhance stroke patient care.


Stroke, Stroke rehabilitation, Stroke recovery, Peer support, Program evaluation, Nursing

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