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

What distinguishes clinicians who better support patients for chronic disease self-management?

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

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 18(3) 220-227 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY11029
Submitted: 8 March 2011  Accepted: 23 August 2011   Published: 2 December 2011

Abstract

Many frequent readmissions due to acute exacerbations of chronic disease could be prevented if patients self-managed. This study explored factors involved in patient activation for chronic disease self-management by qualitative analysis of interview data from hospital and community-based clinicians and patients. All clinicians reported that many frequently readmitted patients did not readily take up referral to chronic disease self-management services. This reluctance was compounded by system or access barriers. Clinicians who had a defined role in chronic disease management and patient-centred and behaviour change skills reported that although some patients were more resistant than others, patients could be persuaded to adopt self-management behaviours. Hospital clinicians and GPs were more inclined to attribute blame to clinical, social and personal patient factors, such as difficulty with support at home, social circumstances and reluctance to take responsibility. Investment in extending the skills and role of hospital clinicians and GPs to take a more supportive role in patient uptake of referrals to chronic disease self-management services would reduce hospital readmissions. Improvements in access to chronic disease self-management and GP services are also needed to address failure to take up chronic disease self-management.


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