A qualitative case study of the processes of peer education in a young adult tobacco control initiative, Leave the Pack Behind
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Peer education involves peers offering credible and reliable information about sensitive life issues through the means of an informal peer group setting (Topping & Ehly, 1998). The purpose of this instrumental case study was to examine the processes of peer education through the exploration of two teams within a young adult tobacco control initiative, Leave the Pack Behind (LTPB). This qualitative case study examined two peer education teams over an eight-month period. Interviews, focus groups and observations were conducted with 12 participants across two peer education teams. Findings show the complexities of the processes of peer education including a connection between the stages of change and the changing role of the peer educator across stages of the empowerment process. Peer education teams and factors in the macro environment were also found to impact the process of peer education. This study provides a new definition for the process of peer education: peer education is a fluid process of knowledge exchange in which peer educators adopt different styles of facilitation as people move through stages of empowerment and change. This study contributes to the academic hterature upon the processes of peer education by providing a definition, a model and an overall understanding through an ecological and empowerment framework. The findings from this study suggest peer educators can be further trained to: use specific peer educational approaches that fit with student smoker's stage of change; better understand their position as a peer educator on the LTPB team; understand the reciprocal relationship between the macro environment and the peer education teams having an effect on one another.