Different peer-based approaches

Peer-based interventions use a range of complex and variable approaches, definitions and interpretations, most often under the umbrella term “peer education”.1

However, a variety of terms and ideas exist for peer based approaches in addition to peer education e.g. peer support, mediation, advocacy, tutoring; in practice, these terms are often used interchangeably. This can make it difficult when trying to gain consensus about terminology and approaches for research and practice and confusing when deciding which approach to take.

Below are the main characteristics of the various concepts commonly found in the context of peer-based approaches. Click on the titles to find out more about each one.

Peer education

  • Aims to convey information to members of a particular group through individuals who are part of this social network and who have been educated on a specific subject.
  • Aims to achieve a change of a person’s knowledge, attitude, beliefs, norms and behaviour towards a healthier lifestyle.

Peer support

  • Aims to enhance self-esteem and self-efficacy as well as improving life skills, coping strategies and problem-solving skills in participants.

Peer mentoring

  • Aims to enhance supportive relationships between two people, commonly between two people of differing age groups and the mentor usually being older.
  • Aims to provide support, e.g. during transition periods, adverse life events or exam preparation.

Peer tutoring

  • Aims to improve academic performances of students.

Peer mediation

  • Aims to train young people as mediators to facilitate solutions to disputes among their peers.

Peer leadership

  • Aims to develop leadership, mentoring and/or counselling skills and is a concept that may be integral to any peer-based intervention.


  1. Turner, G & Shepherd, J 1999, ‘A method in search of a theory: peer education and health promotion’, Health Education Research, vol. 14, no. 2, p. 235.