Peer-supported faculty development and workplace teaching: An integrative review

Narelle Campbell, Helen Wozniak, Robyn L. Philip, Raechel A Damarell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Context: The use of peer support as a faculty development technique to improve clinical teaching is uncommon in medical education, despite the benefits of situating learning in the workplace. The authors therefore conducted a broad search seeking theoretical and empirical literature describing peer support strategies for clinical teachers in health care workplaces. This included descriptive and non-experimental studies that are often excluded from reviews. The review aimed to identify and assess existing initiatives and to synthesise key challenges and benefits. Methods: An integrative literature review was undertaken (2004–2017), based on searches of eight international electronic databases and targeted manual searches. Key concepts, elements and models were mapped using an iterative, constant comparative method. An evaluative framework, drawing on previous research, informed conclusions regarding the quality of evidence. Results: From a pool of 5735 papers, 34 met the inclusion criteria. The majority referred to studies conducted in the USA (59%) and in the medical profession (71%). Analysis revealed a trend towards using a collaborative model (56%), voluntary participation (59%), and direct workplace observation by a peer clinician (68%). Design features of the peer support strategy were commonly reported (65%), with half providing outcome measures (56%). Few papers reported on process evaluation (15%) or evidence of programme sustainability (15%). Despite logistical and time-associated challenges, benefits accrued to individuals and the workplace, and included improved teaching practices. Embedding the peer support strategy into routine organisational practice proved effective. Conclusions: The results indicated that a workplace-based peer support model is an acceptable and effective faculty development strategy for health care clinical teachers. Conceptualising workplace-based peer support via a sociocultural model that acknowledges the significance of educational design, peers as collaborators and the importance of workplace context and culture is emphasised. Future research should focus on clarification studies informed by contemporary models of faculty development, in which factors impacting the health care workplace are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-988
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Education
Issue number10
Early online date25 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY (, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2019 The Authors . Medical Education published by Association for the Study of Medical Education and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Clinical teaching
  • Peer support
  • Clinical workplace
  • Health care workplace
  • Faculty development
  • Reviews


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