Hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) are common musculoskeletal conditions. Treatment is usually conservative, making self-management a priority. We developed and trialled an OA peer mentorship intervention to support self-management in older people. Our objectives were to gain understanding of the perceived challenges of living with OA and explore how a peer mentorship intervention can support tackling these challenges; and to explore mentees' experiences of receiving the intervention to understand how this affected their OA self-management.
Qualitative semi-structured interviews focussing on acceptability and feasibility of being in the study were conducted with mentees. Transcribed interviews were double coded and subject to framework analysis. To address the objectives of this paper, three main themes were subject to focused analysis: mentees' experiences of OA, experience of peer mentorship support and factors influencing self-management.
Seventeen mentees participated in an interview following completion of the peer support intervention. Themes emerging from focused analysis were the following: tackling the challenges of living with OA pre- and post-intervention; and the interplay of the peer mentorship intervention and self-management. Key elements of the latter theme are enabling factors provided by peer mentorship, and mentees' readiness to self-manage.
To effectively support OA self-management, peer mentorship interventions should include core educational components and focus on strategies that enhance key enablers of self-management. Paying attention to the mentor–mentee relationship and timing of intervention engagement can maximise opportunities for older people to adjust and transition from supported to independent self-management.