Health Education by Peers with Spinal Cord Injury: a Scoping Review

  • Lisa ChaffeyEmail author
  • Christine Bigby


People with spinal cord injury (SCI) have greater health challenges than the general population. Health implications can arise from direct spinal nerve damage, secondary conditions, and the increased likelihood of a sedentary lifestyle. Health education is an important aspect of SCI rehabilitation. Peer education is used in both general health education campaigns and those aimed at people with defined illnesses and disabilities. Peers have a unique understanding of the target population, and are a valued contributor to SCI rehabilitation. This scoping review explored the existing evidence about the various types and content of health education programs involving peers, aimed at adults with SCI. The eight studies identified are described using three themes; timing and focus; role of peer educators; and outcomes. Half of these studies included peer education as one component of a broader program, but despite differing approaches all reported positive participant outcomes. Peer education appears to be a promising approach to assist people with SCI to learn about and manage their health, and positively influence their self-efficacy. Further research that isolates the role of the peer educators in programs would be beneficial to determine the unique benefits of this form of health education.


Chronic illness Peers Health education Scoping review Spinal cord injury 



The authors wish to thank Motivation Australia for their insights into peer education. This work was supported by La Trobe Asia; and La Trobe University Institute for Human Security and Social Change.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

Lisa Chaffey declares that she has no conflict of interest. Christine Bigby declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Living with Disability Research CentreLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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