Pragmatic, consensus-based minimum standards and structured interview to guide the selection and development of cancer support group leaders: a protocol paper

Across the globe, peer support groups have emerged as a community-led approach to accessing support and connecting with others with cancer experiences. Little is known about qualities required to lead a peer support group or how to determine suitability for the role. Organisations providing assistance to cancer support groups and their leaders are currently operating independently, without a standard national framework or published guidelines. This protocol describes the methods that will be used to generate pragmatic consensus-based minimum standards and an accessible structured interview with user manual to guide the selection and development of cancer support group leaders.

We will: (A) identify and collate peer-reviewed literature that describes qualities of support group leaders through a systematic review; (B) content analyse eligible documents for information relevant to requisite knowledge, skills and attributes of group leaders generally and specifically to cancer support groups; (C) use an online reactive Delphi method with an interdisciplinary panel of experts to produce a clear, suitable, relevant and appropriate structured interview comprising a set of agreed questions with behaviourally anchored rating scales; (D) produce a user manual to facilitate standard delivery of the structured interview; (E) pilot the structured interview to improve clinical utility; and (F) field test the structured interview to develop a rational scoring model and provide a summary of existing group leader qualities.

The study is approved by the Department Human Ethics Advisory Group of The University of Melbourne. The study is based on voluntary participation and informed written consent, with participants able to withdraw at any time. The results will be disseminated at research conferences and peer review journals. Presentations and free access to the developed structured interview and user manual will be available to cancer agencies.

BMJ open. 2017 Jun 30*** epublish ***

Amanda Pomery, Penelope Schofield, Miranda Xhilaga, Karla Gough

Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia., Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Melbourne, Australia., Department of Cancer Experiences Research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia.