EXPEERTs Conference 2019

Peer support : contemporary issues Health, Disability, Mental Health

Institute in Social Sciences in Britanny (MSHB), Rennes, November, 14th and 15th 2019

Since the 2010’s, this participatory orientation has taken a new turn with the introduction of peers into a set of public policies. The peer refers to a type of actor newly recognized and legitimized by the public authorities in the name of their experiential knowledge: experience of life on the street, experience of chronic disease, experience of addictions, experience of disability, etc. Some are peer advocates, others teachers or trainers, others peer supporters or peer counselors. It is the latter that are the focus of this conference.

Peers are recruited in the multi-professional teams of Housing First public policy for homeless people. Others are asked to participate in the Supported Response for All policy concerning people with disabilities, people living with chronic illness or mental health problems and their families. Still others are expected to break the loneliness and co-construct solidarity and reciprocal relationships within Mutual Aid Groups. Some are enrolled in health or even public health facilities to contribute to therapeutic education or health prevention programs, etc.

As a result of this obvious interest in contemporary French public policies for peers, the practices of peer support, their contexts and statutes are multiplying. While they are fundamental characteristics of peer relationships, symmetry and reciprocity are sometimes even lost sight of. This is not without questioning the issues underlying this participation.

  • Is it the development of the peer support function or the deployment of public policies that is privileged?
  • Is it a desire to democratize targeted sectors of activity and improve public policies, or, conversely, is it the ambition to encourage peers to support public policies through their participation?
  • Is it about recognizing the experiential knowledge of peers and their potential contribution to our society? Or is it a new form of citizen activation?
  • Is the purpose of this peer participation to expand the possibilities for support?
  • Is it a call to lay people to limit public spending?
  • Does peer participation aim to make the populations targeted by public policies more challenging?
  • Or is it standardization and inclusion of peer leaders through ad hoc training and professionalization?

This conference aimed at examining the issues underlying these multiple practical forms of peer participation in the health, social and medico-social sectors as well as self-managed organizations. Its objective was to discern, define and qualify them, and to clarify their practical consequences

Plenary Session – Citizens in a changing society

Session Chair: Baptiste Brossard, Australian National University (Australia)

Joëlle Zask, philosopher, University of Provence – Elements for a culture of participation

Jean-Louis Genard, sociologist, University of Mons (Belgium) – The anthropological horizon of new social policies

En podcast

Plenary Session – From citizen participation to peer support

Session Chair: Robert Dingwall, Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom)

Marcel Jaeger, sociologist, professor emeritus at the CNAM – The participation of people supported/cared for in France: expected effects, effects produced

Eve Gardien, Christian Laval, sociologists (for the EXPEERTs team), Rennes 2 University – Peer support: context effects, public policy effects

En podcast

Plenary Session – Peer support and accompaniment: the contemporary challenge of professionalization

Session Chair: Eve Gardien, Rennes 2 University

Lise Demailly, sociologist, professor emeritus of the University of Lille – Professionalization of peer support in mental health in France: objectives and challenges

Chyrell Bellamy, PhD, Associate Professor of Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, Yale University (USA) – Experiences of professionalizing peer support: Should human experience be professionalized? Build the link between lived experience and acquired experience

En podcast


  1. The programme of the EXPEERTs 2019 conference
  2. The poster of the EXPEERTs 2019 conference
  3. Proceedings of the workshops of the EXPEERTs 2019 Conference
  4. Slideshows of the workshops of the EXPEERTs 2019 Conference


  1. to Aired’U: all the plenary podcasts
  2. to the dedicated MSHB page: presentation of the conference
  3. to the website of the EXPEERTs conference


A book will be published in the next few months, taking up the subject of the conference in greater depth. The information will be available on this page.

EXPEERTs Study day 2021

What can patients give to their peers and to health professionals?

Online conference, January 28, 2021

Patients are often seen as consumers of care, but they are more than that, just as they are not simply patients being cared for. The patient is an essential player in health care. Since the year 2000 in France, directions taken by public policies (Law 2002, HPST Law, Health Law), the activities of various institutional players (including HAS[1]), and dedicated professionals or patient associations have enhanced and facilitated patient involvement.

As part of a call for health democracy, the law of March 4, 2002 established new patient roles and responsibilities. This law promotes a two-fold involvement of the patient. At an individual level, each patient has the right to complete and accurate information on their state of health in order to be able to exercise – in an informed manner – their right to consent to or, on the contrary, to reject a medical examination or treatment. At the collective level, the 2002 law created the status of user representative. The latter is a member of a registered patient association and is mandated within this framework to bring a global perspective, developed collectively by patients at various levels in the health sector or in the region. The user representative can also function as an observer, gather information on practices and process, mediate, participate in defining health policies, prevent undesirable events or advocate for effective patient rights.

There is thus a broad scope of authorized action available to patients within the healthcare system. There are more and more groups devoted to consultation, information and co-construction: Patients’ Commission (CDU), Supervisory Board (CS), Medical Commission on Care Institutions (CME), Institutional Technical Committee (CTE), Sustainable Development Committee , Ethics Committee, Hospital-acquired Infections Control Committee (CLIN), Medicines and Medical Devices Committee (CMDMS), but also Local Health Councils (CLS), Local Mental Health Councils (CLSM), Patients’ Center, Regional Conference on Health and Autonomy (CRSA), City Health Workshops, Regional Health Contracts, Regional Health Project, Regional Mental Health Project, etc. This list is far from exhaustive.

In addition, other types of patient involvement are developing: the “patient-expert” participates in the Therapeutic Education of the Patient (HPST law[2]); “resource patients” supports various courses of action through their contributions, and help in organizing and implementing them; the “patient partner” gets involved following requests by professionals or institutions; the “peer helper” or “peer health mediator” gives support to other people going through mental health challenges and shares their own experiential knowledge; the “patient-teacher” or the “patient trainer” participates in providing content in medical and nursing schools (IFSI), in paramedical training, etc. Not to mention the recent development of participation – at the initiative of caregivers – in care within a collective framework in physical medicine and rehabilitation facilities and services, as well as an emphasis on informal support between patients.

Patient participation in the health system is therefore not a marginal trend but a significant development (Bousquet, Ghadi, 2017; Routelous, 2008). Ma santé 2022, the new certification procedures for health facilities, the HAS recommendations on user involvement in the health, social and medico-social sectors of activity, all these will doubtless profoundly change the French health care system. Through the analysis of concrete situations, the goal of this one-day conference is to understand the challenges of these new practices, their impact, their advantages and disadvantages. This day will focus particularly, but not exclusively, on formal or informal activities of patients in relation to other patients as part of the care and management of daily life with illness.

  1. Poster of the 2021 EXPEERTs study day
  2. Website of the 2021 EXPEERTs study day
  3. The recordings of the 2021 EXPEERTs study day

[1] High Authority of Health

[2] Hospital, Patient, Health, Territory Law

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