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Peer support for families of children with complex needs: Development and dissemination of a best practice toolkit


Child Care Health and Development

Published online on


Background Benefits of peer support interventions for families of children with disabilities and complex medical needs have been described in the literature. An opportunity to create an evidence‐informed resource to synthesize best practices in peer support for program providers was identified. The objective of this paper is to describe the key activities used to develop and disseminate the Peer Support Best Practice Toolkit. Methods This project was led by a team of knowledge translation experts at a large pediatric rehabilitation hospital using a knowledge exchange framework. An integrated knowledge translation approach was used to engage stakeholders in the development process through focus groups and a working group. To capture best practices in peer support, a rapid evidence review and review of related resources were completed. Case studies were also included to showcase practice‐based evidence. Results The toolkit is freely available online for download and is structured into four sections: (a) background and models of peer support, (b) case studies of programs, (c) resources, and (d) rapid evidence review. A communications plan was developed to disseminate the resource and generate awareness through presentations, social media, and champion engagement. Eight months postlaunch, the peer support website received more than 2,400 webpage hits. Early indicators suggest high relevance of this resource among stakeholders. Conclusions The toolkit format was valuable to synthesize and share best practices in peer support. Strengths of the work include the integrated approach used to develop the toolkit and the inclusion of both the published research literature and experiential evidence.