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Self-management is trendy: it is a recognized component of the treatment of chronic disorders and expectations are high. Even so, there are barriers to the introduction of self-managements programmes. Despite considerable research, there is still no hard evidence of the efficacy of self-management programmes, in part because of differences in terminology. There are indications that self-management has potential, but not all patients respond to these interventions. Differences between programmes and patient populations make it difficult to establish which programme works for which patient group. Terminological confusion, also among care providers, policy makers, and the public, harbours the risks that ‘self-management’ may become a meaningless concept. This article clarifies terminology and evaluates the strength of evidence for the efficacy of self-management programmes. It is clear that not all patients benefit from the ‘one size fits all’ approach and that there is a need for tailored care, based on the individual patient. This requires further investigation of determinants of success; which type of intervention, and with what content, form, and intensity, has the great est likelihood of success in specific patient groups. The research consortium Tailored Self-management & Ehealth (TASTE) is trying to unravel these factors and to develop tailored interventions. For the moment, primary care practitioners would do well to evaluate the suitability of self-management programmes for individual patients.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Document Type

Journal Article

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ERA Access


Alternate title: Self-management and chronic disease

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