A patient with a chronic condition is already (and inescapably) self-managing every day. For example, every morning, afternoon and evening, they are deciding what to eat, whether to exercise or not, when to take medications (or if they should) and when and how to seek help. It’s no wonder that self-management can be extremely daunting and draining for patients.
Although self-management at some level is inescapable, the degree to which a patient takes on the responsibility for their health differs greatly. If they decide not to engage in a healthy behavior, or not to take an active role in managing their condition, this decision reflects a management style and can have a significant effect on their treatment or overall healthcare outcome.
Defining Patient Self-Management
Self-management is often called “self-care” and “self-help”. It’s defined as “the individual’s ability to manage the symptoms, treatment, physical and psycho-social consequences and lifestyle changes inherent in living with a chronic condition” (Read the article Enabling Self Management in Patient Support Programs)
Self-management primarily aims to assist patients in three sets of tasks:
- Medical or behavioral management - which involves the medical management of the condition such as taking medication, adhering to a special diet, or using an inhaler.
- Role management – which involves maintaining, changing and creating new meaningful behaviors or life roles.
- Emotional management – which requires the patient to deal with the emotional aspects of living with a chronic condition and can alter their view of the future. Most patients with chronic conditions experience emotions like anger, frustration, fear and depression.
For a patient, self-management is a system of continuous decision-making about many different things: medication, treatment options, symptom management, general health-promoting activities, attitudes and beliefs, education, social support, and everyday practices such as work, caring for family and spending time with friends. Patients must deal with their feelings due to their new situation, including anger, frustration and sadness. They must learn how to manage their expectations and motivation when experiencing setbacks or slow progress (Download the whitepaper to read about the components of Self-Management).
A patient with a chronic condition must go through a process of accepting and learning how to live with the condition. When patients start to self-manage their lives, they regain control. This state is highly desirable as it produces better health outcomes and wellbeing in the long term. Patients cannot avoid self-management, so it’s critical for digitally enhanced patient support programs to assist patients in strengthening their self-management style and truly become the “owner” of their condition.
Download the full Whitepaper "Enabling Patient Self-Management in Patient Support Programs: A Practical Guide for Pharma" which includes:
- Understanding Components of Self-Management
- Five Core Skills for Patient Self-Managing
- Design Recommendations to Foster Better Self-Management in Patient Support Programs