Research Phase 2

People living with chronic conditions need more than medical treatment from their health care providers; they need support in mastering and sustaining the complex self-care behaviors that are necessary to enable them to live as healthy as possible. These behaviors (self-management) include making life-style changes, following complicated medication, strict diet and exercise programs, monitoring and responding to symptoms, and coping effectively with stress.

Studies show that without sustained support, many adults will not be successful in managing their conditions well, leading to worse health outcomes, including expensive hospitalizations and avoidable complications. Unfortunately, for doctors and other health care providers to provide this support on a one-on-one basis is often too costly in time and money. Also, patients might not have sufficient knowledge of the condition or its treatment. The patient might lack the self-confidence or skills to manage the conditions well.

The Institute of Medicine, in its 2003 report Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality, stated that enhancing support for patient self-management is a top priority for improving health care quality in the United States. Also, a 2003 World Health Organization report claimed that improving patient chronic disease self-management would have a far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatment.

How Peer Support Can Improve Chronic Disease Outcomes. From “Building Peer Support Programs to Manage Chronic Disease: Seven Models for Success”

My Research Plan

Run a Peer-Led Self-Management workshop/training/practice. In general, self-management training programs seek to provide information and promote behavioral skills that will help patients carry out the tasks necessary to live as well as possible with chronic illness. These skills include dealing with stress, managing and monitoring symptoms, carrying out all necessary biomedical tasks, navigating health system, and working with health care providers. And peers can be especially effective as leaders for self-management programs. As people who are themselves living with chronic conditions, they serve as excellent role models for participants. I’d like to create and measure the experience of having a buddy support system for my next research. I’d also like to study some of the existing Web and email-based supporting programs.

Prototype Schedule

  1. Two Prototypes, due Nov 22 and Dec 13 — smaller scale, faster iteration, more variety.
  2. One Prototype, due Dec 13 — more ambitious, thoroughly planned and designed.