Why Peer Coaches?

Peer coaches make supportive connections happen!

Photo credit: Yan Krukov – Pexels

Why Peer Coaches?

Peer coaches are accessible and available in and out of school, every day of the week. They cost little to train and they serve for free. Study data suggest that adolescent peers can be as effective, or even more effective than adults in shaping peers’ thinking and behavior about issues related to health and wellness. Three key factors help explain why peer education and coaching works to influence adolescents.

Adolescents are capable of positively influencing peer’s behavior through formal interventions.

A meta‐analysis of studies comparing peer-led to adult-led interventions to reduce risky or unhealthy behavior provide evidence that adolescents participating in peer-led interventions engaged in fewer risky behaviors than interventions led by adults.

Peer-led interventions can help youth improve social competencies.

Peer-led educational interventions can boost adolescents’ social and cognitive skills, problem-solving, decision-making, coping, and increase their self-control and self-esteem. Adolescents in peer-led groups report that they feel greater satisfaction and enjoyment, and perceive greater practical value in the programs due to social influences.

Adolescents may be more receptive to non-cognitive learning when that learning is directed by peers.

Adolescents may discount adult-led programs on health and wellness as lectures because they perceive the programming as just more adults lecturing and telling them what to do. In studies that taught adolescents to manage chronic diseases, peer leaders were perceived as more accepting, credible, and warm. Participants considered peer-led interventions as more fun and engaging.

Effects of Peer-led interventions:

Reduced adolescent use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. 1

↑ May be more effective and result in greater positive changes in health behavior than adult-led interventions, particularly when the intervention addresses social factors. 2

↑ Provide greater satisfaction, enjoyment, and perception that the program is useful than adult-led programs. 3

↑ Yield reciprocal benefits because both students and peer coaches report a benefit from participating in coaching activities. 4

1Addiction. 2016; 111(3):391-407.

2Health Educ Res. 2000 Oct; 15(5):533-45.

3Respiratory care. 2012;57(12): 2082-2089.

4IWE, unpublished data. 2017.