Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Activating patients with chronic disease for self-management: comparison of self-managing patients with those managing by frequent readmissions to hospital

Sue E. Kirby A B , Sarah M. Dennis A , Pat Bazeley A and Mark F. Harris A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: s.kirby@student.unsw.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 19(3) 198-206 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY12030
Submitted: 1 September 2011  Accepted: 22 June 2012   Published: 9 August 2012

Abstract

Understanding the factors that activate people to self-manage chronic disease is important in improving uptake levels. If the many frequent hospital users who present with acute exacerbations of chronic disease were to self-manage at home, some hospital admissions would be avoided. Patient interview and demographic, psychological, clinical and service utilisation data were compared for two groups of patients with chronic disease: those attending self-management services and those who managed by using hospital services. Data were analysed to see whether there were differences that might explain the two different approaches to managing their conditions. The two groups were similar in terms of comorbidity, age, sex, home services, home support and educational level. Self-managing patients were activated by their clinician, accepted their disease, changed their identity, confronted emotions and learnt the skills to self-manage and avoid hospital. Patients who frequently used hospital services to manage their chronic disease were often in denial about their chronic disease, hung on to their identity and expressed little emotional response. However, they reported a stronger sense of coherence and rated their health more highly than self-managing patients. This study shed light on the process of patient activation for self-management. A better understanding of the process of patient activation would encourage clinicians who come into contact with frequently readmitted chronic disease patients to be more proactive in supporting self-management.


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