Background: NHS Englands Five Year Forward View refers to peer support as one of the slow burn, high impact interventions that should be seen as essential to the future of healthcare services, with evidence pointing to benefits in both physical and psychosocial well-being of attendees and potential cost savings to healthcare through improved health condition self-management. However the COVID pandemic has meant that groups cannot currently meet face to face. NCUK Natter Support Groups are local community based or regional meetings that offer an opportunity to meet others, who are also affected by Neuroendocrine Cancer. In response to the pandemic, from the start of lockdown, NCUK Natter groups have been offered online via zoom.
Methods: During July to September 2020, NCUK invited its members to complete an online survey there were 136 respondents.
Results: 136 respondents from across the UK: 92% respondents were patients: 62% attended 1 or more meetings with 30% attending >10. Of those who had not attended a face to face group (38%): 20% cannot get there. Most heard about the groups through either NCUK or hospital team (46% and 37% respectively) Reasons for attending: to gain information, meet others/share experiences and support. Key areas of support received: emotional, practical, social and self-care management. Transfer to zoom only 9% said that they would not join because of format. Asked for preference: 33% would prefer face to face only, however >60% said they would like to have the option of both face to face and zoom. Interestingly respondents would prefer zoom meetings to happen more frequently than face to face. Both formats scored high on attendee experience criticism reserved for venue, technical issues or timing. 55% reported improvements in physical and psychosocial well-being: improved self-confidence, understanding of diagnosis (tests & treatments), self-management, communication with both family and healthcare teams and reduced isolation.
Conclusion: The results echo reports that peer support is valued by attendees and can benefit their physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Zoom was seen as an ongoing part of peer support. Further study regarding influences for success/failure and reported self-management improvements is recommended.