Patient generated "frequently asked questions": identifying informational needs in a RCT of peer support in type 2 diabetes.

AIMS: The purpose of this study is to discuss the use of a system of patient generated "frequently asked questions" (FAQs) in order to gain insight into the information needs of participants.

METHODS: FAQs generated during group meetings taking place in a randomized controlled trial of peer support in type 2 diabetes are described in terms of their frequencies and topic areas. Data from focus groups and semi-structured interviews concerning the FAQs was subjected to content analysis.

RESULTS: 59/182 (33%) of the FAQs were directly related to the topic area of the scheduled peer support meeting with foot care, eyes and kidneys generating the most specific questions. The FAQs addressed mainly knowledge and concerns. The FAQs appeared to enhance peer support and also enabled participants to ask questions to experts that they may not have asked in a clinic situation.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of FAQs to support peer supporters proved beneficial in a randomized controlled trial and may be usefully added to the tools used within a peer support framework. The use of FAQs provided valuable insight into the informal information needs of people with diabetes. Means of providing a similar structure in routine clinical care should be explored.