What makes a successful volunteer Expert Patients Programme tutor? Factors predicting satisfaction, productivity and intention to continue tutoring of a new public health workforce in the United Kingdom
Better management of chronic conditions is a challenge for public health policy. The Expert Patients Programme was introduced into the United Kingdom to improve self-care in people with long-term conditions. To deliver self-care courses, the programme relies on the recruitment and continued commitment to delivering the courses of volunteer lay tutors who have long-term conditions. Ensuring the tutor workforce is productive, satisfied in their role and retained long-term is central to the viability of the programme. This exploratory study aimed to determine what factors predict productivity, intention to continue tutoring, and satisfaction in a sample of volunteer tutors from the Expert Patients Programme.A cross-sectional survey of 895 tutors was carried out and 518 (58%) responded. The questionnaire was designed to describe the characteristics, productivity, intention to continue tutoring, and satisfaction of tutors. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to examine the determinants of productivity, intention to continue tutoring, and satisfaction, such as patient demographics, attitudes, physical and mental health, mastery and self-esteem.Attitudes relating to personal goals, and better health were significant predictors of satisfaction with the tutor role. Only a small proportion of the variance in productivity was accounted for, and tutors were more likely to be productive when they were single, homeowners, car owners, and had lower scores on the depression scale. Overall satisfaction and personal goals were predictors of intention to continue tutoring.Demographic factors, health measures and attitudes each predicted different aspects of the experience of work conducted by the volunteer tutors. The results should prove useful for planning interventions to enhance the success of this new workforce initiative.Attempts to increase participation in courses by people from deprived backgrounds are likely to be enhanced if tutors come from similar backgrounds. This study demonstrated that material advantage and attitudes that value personal goals were predictors of satisfaction and productivity in the tutor role. Specific incentives and strategies may be required to recruit and support tutors from more marginalised groups in order to ensure equitable access to effective self-care support for all.