The Key Characteristics and Role of Peer Support in the Aftermath of Victimization: A Scoping Review

Trauma, Violence & Abuse

Pien van de Ven, Sonja Leferink, Antony Pemberton


Topic: Currently, research into the key elements and role of peer support in the aftermath of victimization is limited. This study reviews the types of evidence available, clarifying key concepts in the literature, examining how research is conducted and identifying key characteristics or factors related to peer support in the aftermath of a victimization experience.

Method: A scoping review was performed for peer-reviewed papers using predefined search terms. Studies addressing peer support among victims and survivors of crime, traffic accidents, calamities, suicide, and veterans were included. Selection was based on title and abstract and resulted in 16 papers eligible for review. An inductive thematic analysis was used to synthesize data and findings.

Findings: Empirical studies into the key elements and role of peer support in the aftermath of victimization are limited in availability and scattered in terms of approach to research (e.g., methodology, type of respondents, type of peer support) and focus (such as focus on effects on mental health and well-being, on key elements or an evaluation of a support program). Studies mainly have an explorative and interpretative character. Key elements, operationalizations, positive outcomes and negative outcomes of peer support are discussed.

Conclusion and Discussion: The currently available knowledge on peer support in the aftermath of victimization lacks four points: cross-cultural studies, lived experiences as empirical findings, a variety of victimization events and longitudinal studies. Moreover, it is argued that future research should be improved by adopting a contextual and narrative approach.

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