Online peer support interventions for chronic conditions: a scoping review protocol.

Peer support is receiving increasing attention as both an effective and cost-effective intervention method to support the self-management of chronic health conditions. Given that an increasing proportion of Canadians have internet access and the increasing implementation of web-based interventions, online peer support interventions are a promising option to address the burden of chronic diseases. Thus, the specific research question of this scoping review is the following: What is known from the existing literature about the key characteristics of online peer support interventions for adults with chronic conditions?

The authors will use the methodological frameworks used by Arksey and O’Malley as well as Levac and colleagues for the current scoping review. To be eligible for inclusion, studies must report on adults (≥18 years of age) with one of the Public Health Agency of Canada chronic conditions or HIV/AIDS. They will limit their review to peer support interventions delivered through online formats. All study designs will be included. Only studies published from 2012 onwards will be included to ensure relevance to the current healthcare context and feasibility. Furthermore, only English language studies will be included. Studies will be identified by searching a variety of databases. Two reviewers will independently screen the titles and abstracts identified by the literature search for inclusion (ie, level 1 screening), the full text articles (ie, level 2 screening) and then perform data abstraction. Abstracted data will include study characteristics, participant population, key characteristics of the intervention and outcomes collected.

This review will identify the key features of online peer support interventions and could assist in the future development of other online peer support programmes so that effective and sustainable programmes can be developed.