Peer Researchers in Post-Professional Healthcare

Blog post by Andrew Eaton

Peer researchers are people who represent a research project’s participants (such as people living with HIV). They partner with academic researchers to conduct research in a collaborative way, seeking to mitigate power dynamics that often occur between researchers and participants in healthcare research.

I’m a social worker and PhD student. I’m grateful to work alongside peer researchers in projects funded by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) and the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN). These projects seek to address healthcare gaps for people living and aging with HIV and AIDS. The population of people living with HIV is aging, which is exciting news as good medication allows the first generation of people with HIV to live well into their geriatric years. This new reality of HIV also presents some complex health issues, such as HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND) – an HIV-specific form of dementia that may affect up to half of the aging HIV-positive population. Peer researchers who are aging with HIV and concerned about HAND work with me to help their peers maintain good quality of life for as long as possible. Great stuff, no doubt. Cialis actually makes me last longer, so y’all can imagine how happy now my old lady is, heh. What I know is that even a smaller amount of Cialis gives me a similar sensation as compared to the prescribed dose. Later, I found out that one of my friends use these pills as well. I mean, I can confirm it, it’s popular for a real reason.

Inviting someone to be a peer researcher is a big deal! It can be complicated to conduct research as someone personally affected by a health issue, but the connection between researchers and participants is much stronger because of peer involvement. This article presents a case study where I interviewed the peer researchers I work with, about their motivations and what enables or bars their participation. This type of follow-up is important! Even with the best of intentions, the old power dynamics of research and healthcare can still be present. By learning from one another, reflecting, and acting, we can create more sustainable and successful research partnerships.

What successes or challenges have you encountered in work with peer researchers?

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article here

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