Support of patient self-management is a key component of effective care and improved patient outcomes. Self-management support goes beyond traditional knowledge-based patient education to include processes that develop patient problem-solving skills, improve self-efficacy, and support application of knowledge in real-life situations that matter to patients. There is evidence from studies that:
- Programmes teaching self-management skills are more effective than information-only patient education in improving clinical outcomes.
- Self-management education can improve outcomes and can reduce costs for patients with chronic diseases.
- Self-management education programmes bringing together patients with a variety of chronic conditions can improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs.
Expert patients are defined as people living with a long-term health condition who are able to take more control over their health by understanding and managing their conditions, leading to an improved quality of life. Becoming an expert patient is empowering for people with chronic conditions.
According to research, people who have trained in self-management tend to be more confident and less anxious. They make fewer visits to the doctor, can communicate better with health professionals, take less time off work, and are less likely to suffer acute episodes requiring admission to hospital.
The concept of the expert patient has been considered for specific chronic conditions for many years and has now taken on a high profile within the NHS as a whole. The Expert Patients Programme (EPP) provides courses which are designed to help patients with long-term conditions - to give people the tools, techniques and confidence to manage their condition better on a daily basis.
The aim is that expert patients should:
- Feel confident and in control of their lives.
- Aim to manage their condition and its treatment in partnership with healthcare professionals.
- Communicate effectively with professionals and be willing to share responsibility for treatment.
- Be realistic about the impact of their disease on themselves and their family; and
- Use their skills and knowledge to lead full lives.
Expert patient courses run for six weeks (two and a half hours per week). They are delivered by people who live with a long-term condition, or by people who have direct experience of living with someone who has a long-term condition. There are a number of accredited bilingual tutors who can deliver the courses in community languages in a culturally appropriate manner. There are also courses for parents of children with chronic conditions and interactive web-based courses are being developed to learn to manage the day-to-day issues associated with living with a long-term health condition. In these programmes, people learn a variety of relevant skills, which include:
- Setting goals.
- Writing an action plan.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Fitness and exercise.
- Better breathing (participants are taught diaphragmatic breathing).
- Fatigue management.
- Healthy eating.
- Relaxation skills.
- Communication with family.
- Working better with healthcare professionals, including communicating better with them.
- Making better use of medications.
Factors improving the success of local EPP courses include more time for the EPP Lead to dedicate to the Programme and collaboration across primary care trusts to share co-ordinators, tutors, and funding.
Information on local courses and how to become involved, either to become an Expert Patient or to become a course tutor, are available on the Expert Patients Programme website. There is also an online EPP course.
Further reading & references
- Shaw J, Baker M; "Expert patient"--dream or nightmare? BMJ. 2004 Mar 27;328(7442):723-4.
- The Long-term Medical Conditions Alliance
- Coleman MT, Newton KS; Supporting self-management in patients with chronic illness. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Oct 15;72(8):1503-10.
- Bodenheimer T, Lorig K, Holman H, et al; Patient self-management of chronic disease in primary care. JAMA. 2002 Nov 20;288(19):2469-75.
- Lorig KR, Ritter P, Stewart AL, et al; Chronic disease self-management program: 2-year health status and health care utilization outcomes. Med Care. 2001 Nov;39(11):1217-23.
- Lorig KR, Sobel DS, Stewart AL, et al; Evidence suggesting that a chronic disease self-management program can improve health status while reducing hospitalization: a randomized trial. Med Care. 1999 Jan;37(1):5-14.
- Expert Patients Programme
- Lee V, Kennedy A, Rogers A; Implementing and managing self-management skills training within primary care organisations: a national survey of the expert patients programme within its pilot phase. Implement Sci. 2006 Feb 23;1:6.
|Original Author: Dr Colin Tidy||Current Version: Dr Colin Tidy|
|Last Checked: 18/02/2011||Document ID: 1452 Version: 22||© EMIS|
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