1. Winder, Patricia A. MS, RN
  2. Hiltunen, Elizabeth F. MS, RN, CS
  3. Sethares, Kristen A. MS, PhD, RN
  4. Butzlaff, Alice MS, RN


As a growing number of older adults recover from cardiac events, volunteer programs have emerged to provide low-cost community support to vulnerable elders. Although an increasing number of studies have described the beneficial relationships between patients and volunteers, little is known about the unique partnership between the advanced practice nurse (APN) and the volunteer peer. The purpose of this article was to explore the interaction between the APN and the peer advisor who provide support for unpartnered elders after myocardial infarction or coronary artery bypass grafting. As part of a larger research study, "Improving Health Outcomes for Unpartnered Cardiac Elders" (R01-NR05205), interactions with peers were recorded by APNs. Essential themes related to working with 20 peer advisors emerged from 30 logs. Findings suggest that establishing the peer support role, acknowledging abilities, and overcoming difficulties are important steps in the relationship. A partnership between healthcare professionals and peer advisors enhances social support for vulnerable elders recovering from myocardial infarction and coronary artery bypass grafting.