Peer support could help improve doctors’ well-being and benefit department culture, researchers conclude. Their positive findings come from analysis of the implementation of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) Peer Outreach Support Team (POST) program in 2 KPNC hospitals.

A study published this month in PLOS ONE analyzed the impact of the program, with 85% of participants saying they would recommend it to another department. The POST program allows for third-party physician/physician referrals, which researchers say brings a culture of support into the hospital setting.

Between June 2019 and May 2022, 11 departments in 2 KPNC hospitals implemented the POST program, reaching more than 500 physicians. Over 3 years, 306 POST interactions took place, with each lasting a median of 60 minutes.

POST is now active in 10 KPNC hospitals, and 3 more hospitals intend to launch POST programs over the next few months.

“Peer support allows the recognition of and remedy to the moral injury that physicians experience when they feel they can’t be fully themselves, adhere to their own values, or do enough for a patient due to constraints within health care,” said first author Molly L. Tolins, MD, an emergency medicine physician with The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) and POST’s founder and regional director.