Self-management of a disease like arthritis has many facets. The Institute of Medicine defines it as “relating to the tasks that an individual must undertake to live well with one or more chronic conditions. These tasks include gaining confidence to deal with medical management, role management, and emotional management.”1
“Using any definition, it is important to see it from the perspective of the patient as a person,” says Anne Townsend, MA, PhD, affiliate researcher at the Arthritis Center of Canada in Vancouver. “Self-management means doing tasks like taking medications effectively, but also living as normal a life as possible and doing what is important to them.”
In the late 1970s, Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH, began to work with the concepts of an arthritis self-management program (ASMP) at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. By the early 1980s, the first lessons were being taught.
“People with chronic illnesses live more than 99% of their lives outside the healthcare system,” says Dr. Lorig who is currently director of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center. “What they do in that time affects their health, quality of life, and utilization of healthcare resources. ASMPs give them the knowledge, skills, and the confidence to use those skills, to meet their full potential in the 99% of the time they are on their own.”