A recent study of more than 1,000 persons from all over the United States validated earlier findings that a six week self-management workshop assisted people with chronic conditions in having fewer symptoms, better role functioning, less depression, and better health care communication with their doctors.

CDSMP WorkshopThe study published in the Journal of Aging and Health was led by Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia G. Ory Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. Collaborators were Kate Lorig, Dr.P.H. from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Nancy Whitelaw Ph.D. from the National Council on Aging.

The study participants took part in the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) workshops in 22 states under the auspices of the 2010-2012 Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The CDSMP is specifically designed to address a variety of negative behaviors and health issues sufferers of chronic conditions face through interactive small group discussion involving goal setting and action planning.

“With the pervasiveness of chronic diseases in our society, a greater emphasis on self-management strategies is an essential strategy for avoiding the onset of chronic conditions and helping those with diseases to manage their conditions more effectively,” said Ory. “This program is designed to address the complex array of health issues and self-management behaviors that cut across different chronic illnesses.”

Kate Lorig, the CDSMP developer and author of previous studies notes, “These findings are significant as more Americans are living with prevalent chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and chronic lung disease, which account for 75 percent of national healthcare expenditures.”

This study confirmed the effectiveness of small group self-management education for improving the health and well-being for the growing number of Americans suffering from one or more chronic conditions. Of special note, researchers demonstrated the feasibility of community agencies successfully delivering CDSMP to a large and diverse population.

In recognition of the need for older adults and their health care providers to know where such evidence-based self-management programs can be located, the National Council on Aging has created a national referral source, Restart Living, for identifying how to access CDSMP workshops in communities across the nation.

Additional authors include SangNam Ahn, Ph.D., University of Memphis; Luohua Jiang, Ph.D., Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health; Phillip Ritter, Ph.D. and Diana D. Laurent, M.P.H., Stanford University School of Medicine; and Matthew Lee Smith, Ph.D. of University of Georgia-Athens.

See how these self-management programs are already making an impact on citizens in the Brazos Valley in this KRHD news story.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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