Background Peer education by volunteers may aid attitudinal change, but there is little understanding of factors assisting the preparation of peer educators. This study contributes to conceptual understandings of how volunteers may be prepared to work as peer educators by drawing on an evaluation of a training programme for peer education for advance care planning (ACP).
Objectives To report on volunteers’ perspectives on the peer education training programme, their feelings about assuming the role of volunteer peer educators and the community engagement activities with which they engaged during the year after training. To examine broader implications for peer education.
Design Participatory action research employing mixed methods of data collection.
Participants Twenty-four older volunteers and eight health and social care staff.
Data collection methods Evaluative data were gathered from information provided during and at the end of training, a follow-up survey 4 months post-training; interviews and focus groups 6 and 12 months post-training.
Findings Volunteers’ personal aims ranged from working within their communities to using what they had learnt within their own families. The personal impact of peer education was considerable. Two-thirds of volunteers reported community peer education activities 1 year after the training. Those who identified strongly with a community group had the most success.
Conclusion We reflect on the extent to which the programme aided the development of ‘critical consciousness’ among the volunteers: a key factor in successful peer education programmes. More research is needed about the impact on uptake of ACP in communities.