Health services in Britain are facing an enormous challenge. The population is growing in size and age and people are more likely to suffer from long term illnesses that require ongoing care. There is a need to change the way systems work and this includes helping people to help themselves.
Supporting self-management means providing information and encouragement to help people maintain greater control by understanding their condition and being able to monitor and take appropriate action.
Interventions to support self-management can be used at different points of the health continuum, from those who do not have a long term condition through to those who are living with severe and multiple long term conditions.
Health and social care services can support people to self-manage their conditions by:
Self-management support interventions can be divided into those that focus on building knowledge and technical skills (such as insulin management) versus those that aim to build self-efficacy (confidence in self-care). The report provides a figure that illustrates these typologies and positions various types of self-management support along the continuum.
This rapid review compiles evidence about the effects of supporting self-management on people’s quality of life, clinical outcomes and health service use.
Reviewers searched more than 10 bibliographic databases for research evidence published up until September 2010.
More than 100,000 reports were scanned and the findings from over 550 high quality studies are included in the review. It does not aim to be exhaustive but instead provides an easy to use compilation of up to date evidence.
Evidence suggests that supporting self-management works. Supporting people to look after themselves can improve their motivation, the extent to which they eat well and exercise, their symptoms and clinical outcomes and can even change how they use health services.
A wide range of initiatives are described as ‘self-management support’ and some may be more effective than others.
Many different types of support are important components of the jigsaw needed to encourage self-management, but information provision alone is unlikely to be sufficient to motivate behaviour change and improve outcomes.
This report will be of interest to policy-makers, commissioners and healthcare providers.
We hope that it provides valuable insight to those involved in our Co-creating Health programme and others exploring how best to extend self-management support to all of their patients.
Following the success of Helping people help themselves, in June 2012, we published Helping people share decision making. The report reviews the available evidence about whether shared decision making is worthwhile.