Home About us Editorial board Ahead of print Current issue Search Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
  • Users Online: 476
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

   Table of Contents      
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44-49

Effect of peer group education on the quality of life of elderly individuals with diabetes: A randomized clinical trial

Department of Health, Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Center, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

Date of Web Publication7-Dec-2018

Correspondence Address:
Mr. Habibolah Hosseini
Faculty of Nursing, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_39_17

Rights and Permissions

Background: Considering the important role of education and the benefits of peer education in increasing patients' independence in self-care, as well as the socio-economic benefit of using peer education, the present study was conducted to assess the effect of peer education on the quality of life (QOL) of elderly people with diabetes. Materials and Methods: This clinical trial was conducted with 44 diabetic people aged over 65 years in selected health centers of Isfahan, Iran, in 2014. After preparing the peer group, 8 educational sessions were held for the participants of the groups by their peers (intervention group) and by the researcher (control group). The Diabetes Quality-of-Life (DQOL) measure was used to assess their QOL before, immediately after, and 1 month after the intervention. Results: The difference between the groups in terms of the total quality of life score immediately after the intervention was significant (t = 8.63; p = 0.001). The results showed that the QOL score in the dimensions of worries about diabetes effects (t = 12.13, p = 0.042), impact of diabetes treatment, (t = 8.63, p = 0.001), and satisfaction with diabetes treatment (t = 11.33, p = 0.001) was significantly different in the groups immediately after the intervention. Conclusions: Peer education increased the QOL of patients with diabetes, with significantly better results than the researcher training group immediately after the training. Thus, this method can be used to improve the QOL of the aged population.

Keywords: Aged, diabetes mellitus, Iran, peer group, quality of life

How to cite this article:
Ghasemi M, Hosseini H, Sabouhi F. Effect of peer group education on the quality of life of elderly individuals with diabetes: A randomized clinical trial. Iranian J Nursing Midwifery Res 2019;24:44-9

How to cite this URL:
Ghasemi M, Hosseini H, Sabouhi F. Effect of peer group education on the quality of life of elderly individuals with diabetes: A randomized clinical trial. Iranian J Nursing Midwifery Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Sep 21];24:44-9. Available from: http://www.ijnmrjournal.net/text.asp?2019/24/1/44/247049

  Introduction Top

At present, increased life expectancy due to increased community health, considerable advancements in medical science, and reduced reproduction rate has caused a global increase in the aged population and has changed aging to a major public health problem in recent years.[1],[2]

In Iran, the rapid rise in the older population has shifted medical health priorities towards issues concerning the elderly. Increased rate of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, with a three-fold increase in the elderly population is considered a potent threat to the healthcare system, especially in developing countries.[3],[4] Controlling blood glucose levels is an essential issue in older patients, especially when they suffer from other diseases. Therefore, they should be trained on blood glucose control.[5]

Among various educational methods, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment,[6] a main form of which is peer group therapy. In this educational approach, individuals can benefit from the experiences gained by their peers to improve their symptoms in a simple and secure learning environment created by considering the similar characteristics of group members. Communication among peers encourages them to choose suitable healthcare behavior, as well as share their weaknesses, strengths, and experiences.[7]

Many studies have focused on peer group education in various diseases,[8],[9] although a few have focused on diabetes care, especially in the elderly. One study on the effect of peer group education in patients with diabetes found that blood glucose levels improved in patients supported by peer groups compared to the group which only received insulin injection.[10] Despite various educational methods regarding different aspects of disease, such as group discussions, and face-to-face training, studies have shown low quality of life (QOL) in older patients with diabetes. Therefore, there is a need for novel educational methods.

Peer education is a process in which motivated and trained individuals are responsible for organized education of their peers that aims to raise awareness and improve skills in the target individuals and enable them to accept their responsibility in protecting their health.[11],[12]

Therefore, considering the important role of education and the benefits of peer education in increasing patients' independence in self-care, as well as the socio-economic benefit of using peer education within the public health system, the present study was conducted to assess the effect of peer education on QOL of elderly patients with diabetes.

  Materials and Methods Top

This parallel-design clinical trial (IRCT2017011129662N2) was performed in three stages (at baseline and immediately and 1 month after the education) on 44 elderly patients (>65 years) with diabetes referring to selected healthcare centers in Isfahan (Imam Ali and Ghaedi centers), Iran, from 22nd October until December 2014. The participants were recruited using convenience sampling method. The main indicator was to calculate the sample size of the outbreak. For sample size calculation (S) was considered the estimated standard deviation (SD) of QOL score (which makes the difference meaningful) at 0.8, based on a previous research,[10] Z1 (confidence coefficient) of 1.96 and Z2 (test power factor) of 0.84. Considering the probability of the loss of participants to follow-up, 10% was added to the sample size and a final sample size of 28 individuals was considered for each group.

The inclusion criteria were being over 65 years of age, having a medical record in the healthcare centers, being willing to participate in the study, being literate, receiving insulin or glucose-lowering medications, and having no long-term side effects of diabetes. Patients who were absent from more than two sessions and those who were not willing to participate were excluded from the study. Initially, a list of elderly individuals with diabetes who had referred to the selected healthcare centers was compiled. After explaining the study objectives to the participants and ensuring them of the confidentiality of their information, written informed consent was obtained for enrollment into the study, following which they were invited to the center. The participants, who were recruited in the study using the convenience sampling method, were randomly assigned to two groups, with a 1:1 randomization ratio using the simple randomization method of flipping a coin. The randomization was performed by an analyzer who was not aware of group allocations and only randomized patients to groups A and B and kept the results of randomization in concealed envelopes. The specialist who visited the patients primarily and recruited the patients into the study based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria also divided patients into 2 groups based on the concealed envelopes, entitled “A” and “B.” Only the researcher who was involved in education was aware of the group allocation. Demographic data of the participants were recorded.

The control group, consisting of 23 individuals, received training by the researcher. The intervention group, consisting of 21 individuals, who were interested and highly motivated was educated by peers. Both groups received eight sessions of training, each lasting 30–45 minutes. The content of the training sessions consisted of educational information regarding self-care, including exercise, diet, and skin care, and elements regarding QOL and common worries related to diabetes using lectures, discussions, and question and answer [Table 1]. The content of the sessions were devised under the supervision of the researcher and a diabetes specialist. The educational sessions in both groups were held at the health centers (Imam Ali and Ghaedi centers) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at different times (at 9–10 a.m. for the peer-trained group and 10–11 a.m. for the researcher-trained group).
Table 1: The educational content of each session for the two groups

Click here to view

The researchers supervised the sessions and corrected the peers. The Diabetes Quality-of-Life (DQOL) measure was handed to all participants under the supervision of the researcher before the intervention and and immediately and 1 month after the end of the educational sessions. The researcher responded to the participants' questions and read the questions to them when necessary. The questionnaires were completed by the two groups at separate times and places, so that the participants of different groups did not meet each other. The DQOL questionnaire comprises 46 items which measure the QOL of patients with diabetes and the burden associated with diabetes treatment and glycemic control. The questionnaire contains the 4 subscales of satisfaction with treatment (15 items), impact of diabetes treatment (20 items), worries about the effects of diabetes (7 items), and social/vocational concerns (4 items), each scored based on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5. Its minimum and maximum total scores are 14 and 75 points, respectively. The original version of the questionnaire was written in English by Jacobson[13] and was translated into Persian by Pakpour et al., who reported adequate internal consistency reliability for all subscales.[14] Masaeli et al. reported a Cronbach's alpha of 89% for the questionnaire.[15]

The scores of the DQOL questionnaire were reported in each domain and in total, and were compared between the groups using independent samples t-test. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows (version 20, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA). The significance level was set at 0.05 for all statistical tests.

Ethical considerations

This research approved by the Ethics Committee of the Medical Research Deputy of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (code393510, October 2014). All participants signed the written informed consent after receiving explanation about the objectives of the study. Participants were ensured of the confidentiality of their information and anonymous analysis. The participants were informed that they could receive the results, if they desired.

  Results Top

A total of 100 patients with diabetes were evaluated for being enrolled into the study [Figure 1], but 34 patients did not meet the inclusion criteria and 10 others did not give consent to participate in the study, resulting in 56 patients. The participants were randomized into two groups of 28 members. In the intervention group, 7 were excluded due to absence from more than 2 sessions, resulting in 21 members. In the control group, 5 were excluded due to absence from more than 2 sessions, resulting in 23 members, who entered the analysis.
Figure 1: Flow diagram for enrollment of participants into the study

Click here to view

Chi-square test showed no significant difference between the control and intervention groups with respect to sex and educational level [Table 2]. Independent t-test showed that the QOL score did not differ significantly at baseline between the groups (t = 1.59, p = 0.840), but improved significantly in the intervention group, compared to the control group, immediately after the educational sessions (t = 8.63, p = 0.001). However, it showed that the groups did not differ 1 month after the intervention (t = 4.74, p = 0.223). Immediately after the intervention, QOL score decreased in both groups [Table 3]. Analysis of three subscales of QOL at the three different stages of the study is shown in [Table 4].
Table 2: Comparison of the demographic variables in the two groups

Click here to view
Table 3: Comparison of the total quality of life scores before, immediately after, and one month after the intervention in the two groups

Click here to view
Table 4: Comparison of the mean scores of different quality of life dimensions

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

The present study results illustrated that the total QOL scores, as well as the scores of the three subscales, differed significantly between the control and intervention groups immediately after the intervention that shows the effectiveness of peer education in elderly patients with diabetes.

The results of this study regarding the satisfaction and diabetes impact subscales are consistent with several other studies. Uccelli et al. studied the effect of peer support groups on multiple sclerosis (MS) and found that peer groups have a positive and significant effect on the physical health of patients with MS.[16] However, Mohr et al. did not find such a significant difference in their study addressing the effect of a telephone-based peer support program on patients with MS.[17] This inconsistency between the results of studies could be attributed to the differences in the educations, the content of sessions, demographic characteristics of participants, and diseases.

With respect to the worries about diabetes, it was found that increasing the patients' awareness could reduce their anxiety and concern, increase their QOL, and reduce their blood pressure level, depression, and intrusive thoughts, and improve their sleep quality. In most studies, the training was given by specialists and nurses,[18],[19],[20] and no study was found to assess the effect of peer groups on the concern and worries of elderly patients with diabetes. In a long-term follow-up of 2, 3, and 4 years, Ridge et al. studied the effects of psychological treatments on improving glycemic control in type 1 diabetes and found that cognitive-behavioral diabetes interventions lose their effectiveness over time. Therefore, it is necessary to estimate the time of maximum effectiveness and repeat the interventions once in a while.[21] However, other researchers found that in a 1-month follow-up of hemoglobin and blood pressure levels, no change was observed in patients' weight, whereas depression, anxiety, and emotional distress decreased.[18] This is inconsistent with the present study findings. This inconsistency could be attributed to the difference in the participants' characteristics because the present study was only performed on elderly individuals with diabetes, who are highly dependent on their friends and peers and might therefore experience stress and be worried about being left alone after the end of the intervention period.

A significant difference was observed between the three study stages in the intervention group with respect to QOL scores, which increased over time, indicating an improvement in the participants' QOL. This finding is consistent with a previous related study.[22] The difference in the total QOL score between the study groups immediately after the intervention showed that peer education has a positive effect on the QOL of elderly individuals with diabetes.

Berkman et al. believe that social support improves health only when a sense of closeness is created through emotional support.[23] Emotional support is shaped through a caring relationship with others. In this study, peer-group support significantly increased the elderly's QOL probably due to receiving help from others in stressful situations.

In another study on the effect of peer education on self-efficacy and QOL of patients with diabetes, the researchers found that such education positively increased these variables.[24] Diabetes-related education, given by peers, can increase the patients' QOL, which would in turn lead to better diabetes control and reduced hospital costs. The present study results are in line with other studies on other diseases, such as cancer,[25] and most studies indicating beneficiary effects of peer education on different aspects of diabetes, such as glycemic control,[11] and self-management.[26],[27]

On the other hand, it was found that, immediately after the intervention, the QOL of patients improved in the intervention group compare to the control group. It is noteworthy that, after the intervention, most patients showed interest in continuing the interventions and explained that discontinuing such sessions would facilitate their further isolation because they would not have the opportunity to interact with their peers. Lack of social and mental support from peer groups could deteriorate patients' physical health. Moreover, their learning of various strategies for coping with their disease through peer education would end after the end of the sessions. Some participants who were not willing to participate in the study and complete the questionnaires were motivated by financial support to reduce the confounding effect of these patients in the results of the study. The main limitations of the present study included the short-term follow-up period of the study and the small number of participants, which were mainly due to the low tolerance of the elderly. However, the researchers tried to limit the number of participants lost to follow-up by explaining the study objectives to them with great patience.

  Conclusion Top

Peer education led to an improvement in the total scores of QOL in patients with diabetes. Furthermore, significantly better results were observed in the three subscales, including satisfaction, impact of diabetes treatment, and worries about the disease effects, compared to the researcher trainings group, especially immediately after the training. However, the difference between the intervention and control groups failed to be statistically significant, which indicates that the continuous training of patients by a peer can lead to better results in the QOL of elderly patients with diabetes. Therefore, this educational approach could be used to improve the QOL of the aged population over time.


This study was approved with code 393510. We would like to thank all the individuals who helped us during the study period, especially the personnel of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.

Financial support and sponsorship

Isfahan University of Medical Sciences

Conflicts of interest

Nothing to declare.

  References Top

Noroozian M. The elderly population in iran: An ever growing concern in the health system. Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci 2012;6:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Beltran-Sanchez H, Soneji S, Crimmins EM. Past, present, and future of healthy life expectancy. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2015;5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Esmaeili Shahmirzadi S, Shojaeizadeh D, Azam K, Salehi L, Tol A, Moradian Sorkhkolaei M. The impact of chronic diseases on the quality of life among the elderly people in the east of Tehran. J Payavard Salamat 2012;6:225-35.  Back to cited text no. 3
Vrdoljak D, Pavlov R. Diabetes in elderly. Coll Antropol 2014;38(Suppl 2):243-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Morovati SMA, Rouhani TN. Social support and self-care behaviors in diabetic patients referring to Yazd diabetes research center. Zahedan J Res Med Sci (Tabib-E-Shargh) 2008;9:275-84.  Back to cited text no. 5
Sharif F, Masoudi M, Ghanizadeh A, Dabbaghmanesh MH, Ghaem H, Masoumi S. The effect of cognitive-behavioral group therapy on depressive symptoms in people with type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2014;19:529-36.  Back to cited text no. 6
Yin J, Wong R, Au S, Chung H, Lau M, Lin L, et al. Effects of providing peer support on diabetes management in people with type 2 diabetes. Ann Fam Med 2015;13(Suppl 1):S42-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
Taleghani F, Babazadeh S, Mosavi S, Tavazohi H. The effects of peer support group on promoting quality of life in patients with breast cancer. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2012;17:S125-30.  Back to cited text no. 8
Biabanakigoortani A, Namnabati M, Abdeyazdan Z, Badii Z. Effect of peer education on the noise management in Iranian neonatal intensive care unit. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2016;21:317-21.  Back to cited text no. 9
Piette JD, Resnicow K, Choi H, Heisler M. A diabetes peer support intervention that improved glycemic control: Mediators and moderators of intervention effectiveness. Chronic Illness 2013;9:258-67.  Back to cited text no. 10
Philis-Tsimikas A, Fortmann A, Lleva-Ocana L, Walker C, Gallo LC. Peer-led diabetes education programs in high-risk Mexican Americans improve glycemic control compared with standard approaches: A Project Dulce promotora randomized trial. Diabetes Care 2011;34:1926-31.  Back to cited text no. 11
Safford MM, Andreae S, Cherrington AL, Martin MY, Halanych J, Lewis M, et al. Peer coaches to improve diabetes outcomes in rural alabama: A cluster randomized trial. Ann Fam Med 2015;13(Suppl 1):S18-26.  Back to cited text no. 12
Group DR. Reliability and validity of a diabetes quality-of-life measure for the diabetes control and complications trial (DCCT). Diabetes Care 1988;11:725-32.  Back to cited text no. 13
Pakpour AH, Saffari M, Burri A. Translation and validation of an Iranian version of the Diabetes Quality of Life measure. J Diabetes Investig 2012;3:471-8.  Back to cited text no. 14
Masaeli N, Attari A, Molavi H, Najafi M, Siavash M. Normative data and psychometric properties of the quality of life questionnaire for patients with diabetes mellitus. Koomesh 2010;11:263-9.  Back to cited text no. 15
Uccelli MM, Mohr LM, Battaglia M, Zagami P, Mohr D. Peer support groups in multiple sclerosis: Current effectiveness and future directions. Mult Scler J 2004;10:80-4.  Back to cited text no. 16
Mohr DC, Burke H, Beckner V, Merluzzi N. A preliminary report on a skills-based telephone-administered peer support programme for patients with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J 2005;11:222-6.  Back to cited text no. 17
Rosenzweig S, Reibel DK, Greeson JM, Edman JS. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is associated with improved glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A pilot study. Altern Ther Health Med 2007;13:36-8.  Back to cited text no. 18
Faude-Lang V, Hartmann M, Schmidt E-M, Humpert P, Nawroth P, Herzog W. Acceptance-and mindfulness-based group intervention in advanced type 2 diabetes patients: Therapeutic concept and practical experiences. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol 2010;60:185-9.  Back to cited text no. 19
Borhani F, Lashkari T, Sabzevari S, Abbaszadeh A. Effect of telenursing (telephone follow-up) on glycemic control and body mass index (BMI) of type 2 diabetes patients. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2013;18:451-6.  Back to cited text no. 20
Ridge K, Bartlett J, Cheah Y, Thomas S, Lawrence-Smith G, Winkley K, et al. Do the effects of psychological treatments on improving glycemic control in type 1 diabetes persist over time? A long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Psychosom Med 2012;74:319-23.  Back to cited text no. 21
Van Tam V, Larsson M, Pharris A, Diedrichs B, Nguyen HP, Nguyen CTK, et al. Peer support and improved quality of life among persons living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment: A randomised controlled trial from north-eastern Vietnam. Health Qual Life Outcomes 2012;10:53.  Back to cited text no. 22
Berkman LF, Kawachi I, Glymour MM. Social epidemiology. Oxford University Press; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 23
Liu Y, Han Y, Shi J, Li R, Li S, Jin N, et al. Effect of peer education on self-management and psychological status in type 2 diabetes patients with emotional disorders. J Diabetes Investig 2015;6:479-86.  Back to cited text no. 24
Ferrans C, Powers M. Quality of life index: Development and psychometric properties. Rech Soins Infirm 2007:32-7.  Back to cited text no. 25
van der Wulp I, de Leeuw JR, Gorter KJ, Rutten GE. Effectiveness of peer-led self-management coaching for patients recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes mellitus in primary care: A randomized controlled trial. Diabet Med 2012;29:e390-7.  Back to cited text no. 26
Shafiei F, Shahgholian N, Amini M, Abazari P, Amini P. Barriers to blood glucose level management in the health care system: View points of patients, families and medical personnel. Indian J Endocr Metab 2012;14:25-311.  Back to cited text no. 27


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

This article has been cited by
1 The role of peer support education model on the quality of life and self-care behaviors of patients with myocardial infarction
Hossein Ebrahimi,Ali Abbasi,Hossein Bagheri,Mohammad Hasan Basirinezhad,Sara Shakeri,Reza Mohammadpourhodki
Patient Education and Counseling. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
Materials and Me...
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded235    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal