Comparing the needs of health professional and peer cancer support group facilitators in an Australian context Academic Article uri icon


  • This study explored the perceived needs of health professional and peer facilitators of cancer support groups. Participants were facilitators of support groups affiliated with The Cancer Council Victoria (Australia). Facilitators completed questionnaires assessing their experience of support group facilitation, including training and support needs. Data from health professional and peer facilitators (n= 74) were analysed in this paper. The majority of facilitators (88%) were female; 57% had run their group for more than 3 years, and 47% reported between 11 and 20 people attended each group. Although results showed the characteristics of support groups are broadly similar for peers and professionals, there were some distinct differences in perceived needs. Health professional facilitators were more likely than peers to regard training as valuable and beneficial to their role. In addition, health professionals more frequently reported needing debriefing as well as more difficulty accessing debriefing than cancer peers. This study builds on the small body of literature exploring the experiences of cancer support group facilitators. Given the experiences and needs of health professional and peer facilitators may differ, it may be relevant to tailor training and support so that it meets the needs of both health professionals and cancer peers.

publication date

  • January 2011