Lay and health care professional understandings of self-management: A systematic review and narrative synthesis

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Objectives: Self-management is widely promoted but evidence of effectiveness is limited. Policy encourages health care professionals to support people with long-term conditions to learn self-management skills, yet little is known about the extent to which both parties share a common understanding of self-management. Thus, we compared health care professional and lay understandings of self-management of long-term conditions.
Methods: Systematic review and narrative synthesis of qualitative studies identified from relevant electronic databases, hand-searching of references lists, citation tracking and recommendations by experts.
Results: In total, 55 studies were included and quality was assessed using a brief quality assessment tool. Three conceptual themes, each with two subthemes were generated: traditional and shifting models of the professional–patient relationship (self-management as a tool to promote compliance; different expectations of responsibility); quality of relationship between health care professional and lay person (self-management as a collaborative partnership; self-management as tailored support) and putting self-management into everyday practice (the lived experience of self-management; self-management as a social practice).
Conclusion: Self-management was conceptualised by health care professionals as incorporating both a biomedical model of compliance and individual responsibility. Lay people understood self-management in wider terms, reflecting biomedical, psychological and social domains and different expectations of responsibility. In different ways, both deviated from the dominant model of self-management underpinned by the concept of self-efficacy. Different understandings help to explain how self-management is practised and may help to account for limited evidence of effectiveness of self-management interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2050312114544493
Number of pages18
JournalSAGE Open Medicine
Early online date28 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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