Evidence-Based Self-Management Programs Improve Lives of People with Chronic Conditions

Chronic disease takes an enormous toll on peoples’ lives. It causes pain, disability, decreased physical activity and poor emotional health, which can seriously compromise the quality of daily life. As the prevalence of chronic conditions and their cost burdens increase, and in response to the urgency for health care professionals to respond to the pressures of health care reform, it is now more vital than ever to look beyond traditional treatments in hospital and physician office settings for solutions. AgeOptions provides cost-effective, evidence-based programs in trusted and accessible community settings that improve the health of participants, increase their engagement in their own health care, and reduce health care costs.

                                   Graduates of our Take Charge of Your Diabetes Workshop!

                                   Graduates of our Take Charge of Your Diabetes Workshop!

A Proven Public Health Strategy
That Enhances Physical and Psychological Well-Being

Self-management education programs have been proven to significantly help people with chronic conditions. As a complement to clinical care, these programs teach participants how to exercise and eat healthy, use medications appropriately, solve everyday problems and communicate effectively with family members and health care providers—all positive life skills to enhance well-being. As a result, these interventions help participants reduce pain, depression, fear and frustration; improve mobility and exercise; increase energy; and boost confidence in their ability to manage their condition.

Promoting Life-Changing Skills

Along with teaching life-changing skills, one of the key components of Take Charge is to build self-confidence. A 62-year-old participant with osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and diabetes once described herself as a prisoner of her pain, but after attending a Take Charge of Your Health workshop series, she feels she has regained the independence of her younger life. “I was living in fear and doubt of my own capabilities with my chronic diseases, but then as I took the program…I just soared.” Chronic disease self-management programs are being implemented successfully in senior centers, churches and other community settings throughout Illinois, and across the country.

The most common chronic diseases include asthma, kidney and lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and arthritis.

Measuring Outcomes for Take Charge of Your Health

National studies show that participants who complete at least four of the six sessions experience the following outcomes: improved self-reported health; improved health-related quality of life; reduced number of unhealthy physical days and unhealthy mental days; improved communication with physicians, medication compliance and health literacy; and improved health status in six indicators: 1) fatigue, 2) shortness of breath, 3) depression, 4) pain, 5) stress, and 6) sleep problems.

Based on our evaluation of the health of program participants, we expect to see statistically significant improvement in health confidence, at least one new healthy behavior (maintained by the majority of the sampled participants at 3 months and 6 months after the end of the workshop), and improved self-efficacy in communication with health care providers.