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Course Description
Course Objectives
Target Audience
Course Faculty

Course description: 
Support groups have emerged globally as a way for patients and their families to access support and connect with others. The model of community-led peer support groups provides an accessible, low-cost, and valuable option for some cancer patients to link into basic psychosocial support. As groups grow and develop, some expand their role into areas such as access to treatment and policy change: from helping patients navigate cancer services to bringing the patient’s perspective to promote change at policy level, the work of patient support groups can be felt across the health system. Cancer agencies and group leaders have a crucial role in leading the delivery of peer support groups and maximising their impact as the representative broker of patients and their needs.

This course will guide you on how to develop effective individual peer support groups on a local level, explore other functions the groups may take in their development along with their organisational implications. An overview of established knowledge in the field will be provided. Variations in group formats, structure, and delivery will be investigated along with potential challenges and opportunities. The use of technology in peer support groups and the emergence of online communities will be discussed with the aim of sharing best practices.

The role of the group leader will also be explored to include the necessary knowledge, skills, and attributes for the role. Guidance will be provided on how to effectively identify and prepare potential group leaders utilising consensus-based standards and available resources. Sharing of experiences and knowledge will be a core component of the entire course with a paired buddy-system introduced to facilitate meaningful peer learning amongst participants.

Course objectives: 
After completion of this course participants will be able to:
1. Appreciate how support groups operate globally, what support is currently provided in local communities, and approaches to coordination and delivery.
2. Learn how technology is being used in delivery of peer support.
3. Understand the requisite qualities and specific knowledge, skills, and attributes necessary for the cancer support group leader role.
4. Learn how to conduct effective selection processes and identify development needs of support group leaders.
5. Identify challenges and opportunities in the delivery of peer support groups.
6. Understand implications and opportunities for patient groups to advocate for the patient’s perspective to be heard at the policy level.
7. Participate in peer networking and shared knowledge amongst course participants.

Target audience:
The course is for support group leaders, patient advocates, workers of cancer agencies or community organisations involved in patient support groups, and for cancer control professionals relevant to psychosocial support. This is an introductory course with no assumed prior training.

Course leader:
Amanda Pomery, Director, Support & Community Outreach, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Australia

Other faculty:
Ranjit Kaur Pritam Singh, President, Breast Cancer Welfare Association, Malaysia
Vandana Gupta, Founder, V Care Foundation, India

Needs Assessment
Module 1
Module 2
Module 3
Evaluation and Certificate
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