Conclusion

Peer support can enhance the lives of young people, facilitate resilience and act as a buffer against potential consequences of chronic illness. Whilst it should be recognized that not all young people will respond to all modalities of peer support health professionals need to be innovative in creating a variety of opportunities to meet similar others. Health professionals need to develop their communication skills to enable them to determine levels of peer support as this may have an impact on outcome (Table 3). This should be viewed as an integral and important aspect of assessment and steps should be taken to remedy social isolation and exclusion, rather than accept it as a fact of life. Such interventions are further enhanced by collaboration with other agencies such as youth services, school personnel and voluntary agencies. Since friends are so intrinsic to healthy adolescent development, psychosocial interventions addressing peer support should be acknowledged as a major component of holistic, multidisciplinary, adolescent rheumatology health care.

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