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Implementing Practical Interventions to Support Chronic Illness Self-Management

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Background: Self-management support (SMS) is the area of disease management least often implemented and most challenging to integrate into usual care. This article outlines a model of SMS applicable across different chronic illnesses and health care systems, presents recommendations for assisting health care professionals and practice teams to make changes, and provides tips and lessons learned. Strategies can be applied across a wide range of conditions and settings by health educators, care managers, quality improvement specialists, researchers, program evaluators, and clinician leaders. Successful SMS programs involve changes at multiple levels: patient–clinician interactions; office environment changes; and health system, policy, and environmental supports.

Patient–Clinician Interaction Level: Self-management by patients is not optional but inevitable because clinicians are present for only a fraction of the patient's life, and nearly all outcomes are mediated through patient behavior. Clinicians who believe they are in control or responsible for a patient's well-being are less able to adopt an approach that acknowledges the central role of the patient in his or her care.

Summary and Conclusions: Self-management should be an integral part of primary care, an ongoing iterative process, and patient centered; use collaborative goal setting and decision making; and include problem solving, outreach, and systematic follow-up.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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