The impact of peer mentor communication with older adults on depressive symptoms and working alliance: A pilot study

Jin Hui Joo, Seungyoung Hwang, Joseph J. Gallo, Debra L. Roter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this pilot study was to describe peer communication in meetings with depressed elders, associate their relationship with working alliance and depression and assess congruence of communication with training. Methods: Three peers with a history of depression, in recovery, received 20 h of training in peer mentoring for depression as part of an 8-week pilot program for 23 depressed older adults. Each peer-client meeting was recorded; a sample of 69 recorded meetings were chosen across the program period and coded with the Roter Interaction Analysis System, a validated medical interaction analysis system. Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine peer talk during meetings in relation to working alliance and client depression. Results: Peers used a variety of skills congruent with their training including client-centered talk, positive rapport building and emotional responsiveness that remained consistent or increased over time. Client-centered communication and positive rapport were associated with increased working alliance and decreased depressive symptoms (all p < 0.001). Conclusion: Trained peer mentors can use communication behaviors useful to older adults with depression. Specifically, client-centered talk may be important to include in peer training. Practice implications: Peer mentors can be a valuable resource in providing depression counseling to older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-671
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Aging
  • Communication
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Peer support
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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