An instrument to measure the new volunteerism in self-help agencies

Document type
Borkman, Thomasina; Kaskutas, Lee
Date of publication
1 September 2000
Voluntary Action: the journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research. Vol. 2; Number 3
Social welfare
Material type

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The 'helper-therapy principle' – people who help others receive benefits themselves – has been widely invoked in studies of selfhelp/mutual aid, but so far there have been few attempts to measure such helping quantitatively. This article reports on the Peer Helper Activity Checklist, developed to measure the extent of peer helping in substance abuse recovery programmes in California. The research found that programme participants had little difficulty in completing the Checklist, and that they reported a range of time spent helping others. More than half the participants (55 per cent) said that they had spent a total of six to twelve hours on the previous day helping their peers; the longer they had been in the programme, the more hours they spent helping others. The Checklist will, for the first time, enable social scientists quantitatively to study peer helping in self-help agencies and allow practitioners to assess the amount of peer helping in their programmes.

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