Using peer educators in nutrition intervention research: Lessons learned from the Maryland WIC 5 a day promotion program

Jean Anliker*, Dorothy Damron, Michael Ballesteros, Robert Feldman, Patricia Langenberg, Stephen Havas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Peer educators have been used for many years in nutrition education interventions. With the increasing importance of documented impacts, the role of peers is expanding to include research activities. Twenty-seven peer educators were hired to deliver the Maryland WIC 5 A Day Promotion Program in three pilot and 16 full-scale study WIC sites in Maryland. Their roles included recruiting and enrolling program participants, collecting pre- and postsurvey data and process evaluation forms, conducting a series of three 45-minute nutrition education sessions, providing social support, maintaining contact with participants through telephone and mail, and tracking participants through the course of the program. Peer educators can make valuable contributions to program design, deliver interventions effectively, and provide social support both to participants and to each other. However, peer educators need intensive training, support, and monitoring for complete and accurate data collection, complete and consistent program delivery, and telephone contacts with participants. Because peer educators face life crises similar to those of their target audiences, special attention is often required for them to remain effective. This paper presents strategies developed as part of the Maryland WIC 5 A Day Program for building the competencies of peer educators working in research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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