A qualitative assessment of using lay trainers with type 2 diabetes in an intervention programme for people at risk of type 2 diabetes

Tracey J. Scarpello, Nikki J. Murray, Sue Maisey, Amanda C. Howe, Mike J. Sampson, UEA-IFG Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: More knowledge is needed on the impact of expert patients within health intervention programmes. The University of East Anglia Impaired Fasting Glucose (UEA-IFG) feasibility programme was a structured dietary and exercise intervention to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in susceptible individuals. Lay volunteers with T2DM (T2 trainers) were recruited to support participants in adopting healthier lifestyles. This study aimed to explore the acceptability, perceived effectiveness and sustainability of lay trainers within the programme.
Design: A qualitative focus group study.
Setting: A clinical research unit in Norwich, United Kingdom (UK).
Method: Focus groups were conducted with: (1) T2 trainers (n = 15); (2) programme participants who had received their support (n = 11); and (3) salaried staff facilitators who had worked alongside the T2 trainers (n = 3). Framework analysis was applied to identify the different experiences of the lay trainer role.
Results: All groups perceived advantages for peer support, particularly in sharing the day-to-day experiences of living with T2DM. However, staff facilitators raised the importance of role boundaries, emphasizing that T2 trainers should not provide medical advice. Acceptability of T2 trainers was enhanced by contacting participants at a convenient time and before substantial lifestyle changes had been made.
Conclusion: Lay trainers were seen as a complementary method to motivate individuals to reduce their risks of T2DM. A less prescriptive approach needs to be adopted to enable full integration of lay trainers, allowing them a greater level of contribution. To sustain effective use of lay trainers, health professionals need to work alongside volunteers and be trained to encourage peer involvement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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