“Peer supporters” or “similar others” are persons who have been through the same life crisis that a stressed individual is currently facing; they are experientially similar to the stressed person. Very little is known about the motivations, experiences, and support-giving strategies of peer support-providers. There were three broad purposes of this study: 1: To investigate how providing peer support to others affects supporters’ health and well-being; 2: To examine the motivations for providing peer support and the meanings of this volunteer activity among individuals who do this work routinely; and 3: To study from the peer-supporters’ point of view how social support from peers differs from support that is supplied by family members and friends. Eighty-two of the roughly 250 Mended Hearts chapters were randomly selected to participate in the project. Paper and web versions of the survey were distributed by Visiting Chairs to the visitors in the selected chapters. Upon completion of the survey, respondents were invited to participate in a semi-structured telephone interview about their Mended Hearts visiting experiences.
This study was conducted with support from the staff at the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University and used the Center's centralized telephone interviewing facility located on the Bloomington campus.
This study is supported by funding from the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington.
To request access to a public-use version of the dataset, please email Peggy Thoits.
Irby-Shasanmi, Amy, and Christy L. Erving. 2020. “Gender Differences in the Effects of Support Exchanges on Self-Esteem and Mastery for Mid- to Late-Life Adults.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 42(5):324–40.
Thoits, Peggy A. 2020 (forthcoming). “Motivations for Peer Support Volunteering: Social Identities and Role Identities as Sources of Motivation.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.