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For many (older) people, especially those with chronic diseases, it is a challenge to maintain or develop a health-promoting lifestyle. Knowledge and possibilities of organizing one's own everyday life accordingly are distributed in a socially unequal way; loss of mobility and lack of support and a diluted supply structure in rural areas are further obstacles. As part of the development of a model health center in a rural neighborhood, an approach to health support based on voluntary work was developed and tested, in which volunteers (n = 10) were appointed as peers. This article describes the theoretical embedding, the conceptual framework of the training (participative learning) and the volunteering profile (outreach support) as well as the effects achieved. On the basis of project experiences and selected evaluation results both beneficial factors as well as challenges were identified. These have to be considered in the further development of the volunteering profile and its implementation in the practice. For the evaluation a mixed methods design was applied at two measurement points. In the surveys 14 accompanied persons were included. The qualitative data were analyzed by qualitative content analysis according to Mayring and the quantitative data by descriptive statistics. The results show that chronically ill (older) people are reached by the voluntary health companion (eGb). The outreach support has positive effects on the receivers and leads to concrete changes in behavior. For the further development, dissemination and consolidation of the eGb, various challenges need to be addressed and adjustments are necessary.


Britta Bertermann, Stephanie Lechtenfeld, Andrea Kuhlmann, Anja Ehlers. Health companion : Findings from the testing of a new volunteering profile]. Zeitschrift fur Gerontologie und Geriatrie. 2021 Feb;54(1):3-12

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PMID: 33226439

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