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Research

Evidence: Helping people help themselves

A review of the evidence considering whether it is worthwhile to support self-management

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Published: May 2011

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:

  • encouraging engagement in decision making
  • educating people about their condition and care
  • motivating people to adopt healthy behaviours
  • helping them know when and how to seek help from professionals. 

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 report

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.

Key findings

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.

Please note

Following the success of Helping people help themselves, in June 2012, we published Helping people share decision making which reviews the available evidence about whether shared decision making is worthwhile. In March 2014, we published Helping measure person-centred care which summarises research about measuring the extent to which care is person-centred and signposts to the most commonly used measurement tools.

Additional person-centred care resources

If you’re interested in person-centred care then take a look at our dedicated Person-centred care resource centre for hundreds of practical tools, materials and downloads.





 
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Comments
I have been unable to download a copy of this imporant report. Is there a technical problem with the website?
i also can't download a copy
Unfortunately we are unable to replicate the issues that some people are experiencing when trying to download this publication.

If you are having trouble, please email website@health.org.uk to request a copy of the report. If you can also let us know which browser and operating system you are using, it may help us to identify the problem.

Kind regards,

The Health Foundation web team
Please could you send docs, Helping people help themselves
co-creating health
getting out of hospital

As I cannot download.
This is an extremely useful, practical and informative report, partly because it is so straightforwardly written and partly because it gives access to the body of evidence (references) to support the strategies recommended. I have found it invaluable in presenting the case for helping people develop their skills to promote and prize self management in the workshops I run.
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