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The Use of Peer-Led Community-Based Programs to Promote Healthy Aging

  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation (O Addison, Section Editor)
  • Published:
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Purpose of Review

Physical activity interventions aimed at older adults are frequently lead by younger trained professionals, often who have not experienced age-related changes in health status. The goal of this paper was to describe peer-led community-based interventions to assess whether this model is feasible for improving overall health and physical functioning.

Recent Findings

Twelve studies were included, with six different peer-led community-based programs: (1) Physical Training and Nutrition, (2) Project Healthy Bones, (3) Steady As You Go, (4) A Matter of Balance/Volunteer Lay Leader Program, (5) Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyles, and (6) Healthy Changes Program.


All programs showed positive effects on physical function, fall efficacy, quality of life, self-efficacy, and self-perceived health. Some reported decreased falls, frailty, and improved social activity. Peer-led programs appear promising to maintain and improve physical and social health. More research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of this approach for improving health and physical function, and reduce falls, and also assess long-term benefits and costs of this community-based intervention for older adults.

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Correspondence to Debra L. Waters.

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Emalie Hurkmans, Birgit Wurzer, and Debra Waters declare no conflicts of interest.

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

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Wurzer, B.M., Hurkmans, E.J. & Waters, D.L. The Use of Peer-Led Community-Based Programs to Promote Healthy Aging. Curr Geri Rep 6, 202–211 (2017).

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