Self-management support interventions such as the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) are becoming more widespread in attempt to help individuals better self-manage chronic disease.
To systematically assess the clinical effectiveness of self-management support interventions for persons with chronic diseases.
A literature search was performed on January 15, 2012, using OVID MEDLINE, OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database for studies published between January 1, 2000, and January 15, 2012. A January 1, 2000, start date was used because the concept of non-disease-specific/general chronic disease self-management was first published only in 1999. Reference lists were examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing self-management support interventions for general chronic disease against usual care were included for analysis. Results of RCTs were pooled using a random-effects model with standardized mean difference as the summary statistic.
Ten primary RCTs met the inclusion criteria (n = 6,074). Nine of these evaluated the Stanford CDSMP across various populations; results, therefore, focus on the CDSMP.
Health status outcomes: There was a small, statistically significant improvement in favour of CDSMP across most health status measures, including pain, disability, fatigue, depression, health distress, and self-rated health (GRADE quality low). There was no significant difference between modalities for dyspnea (GRADE quality very low). There was significant improvement in health-related quality of life according to the EuroQol 5-D in favour of CDSMP, but inconsistent findings across other quality-of-life measures.
Healthy behaviour outcomes: There was a small, statistically significant improvement in favour of CDSMP across all healthy behaviours, including aerobic exercise, cognitive symptom management, and communication with health care professionals (GRADE quality low).
Self-efficacy: There was a small, statistically significant improvement in self-efficacy in favour of CDSMP (GRADE quality low).
Health care utilization outcomes: There were no statistically significant differences between modalities with respect to visits with general practitioners, visits to the emergency department, days in hospital, or hospitalizations (GRADE quality very low).
All results were measured over the short term (median 6 months of follow-up).
Trials generally did not appropriately report data according to intention-to-treat principles. Results therefore reflect “available case analyses,” including only those participants whose outcome status was recorded. For this reason, there is high uncertainty around point estimates.
The Stanford CDSMP led to statistically significant, albeit clinically minimal, short-term improvements across a number of health status measures (including some measures of health-related quality of life), healthy behaviours, and self-efficacy compared to usual care. However, there was no evidence to suggest that the CDSMP improved health care utilization. More research is needed to explore longer-term outcomes, the impact of self-management on clinical outcomes, and to better identify responders and non-responders.
Plain Language Summary
Self-management support interventions are becoming more common as a structured way of helping patients learn to better manage their chronic disease. To assess the effects of these support interventions, we looked at the results of 10 studies involving a total of 6,074 people with various chronic diseases, such as arthritis and chronic pain, chronic respiratory diseases, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Most trials focused on a program called the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP). When compared to usual care, the CDSMP led to modest, short-term improvements in pain, disability, fatigue, depression, health distress, self-rated health, and health-related quality of life, but it is not possible to say whether these changes were clinically important. The CDSMP also increased how often people undertook aerobic exercise, how often they practiced stress/pain reduction techniques, and how often they communicated with their health care practitioners. The CDSMP did not reduce the number of primary care doctor visits, emergency department visits, the number of days in hospital, or the number of times people were hospitalized. In general, there was high uncertainty around the quality of the evidence, and more research is needed to better understand the effect of self-management support on long-term outcomes and on important clinical outcomes, as well as to better identify who could benefit most from self-management support interventions like the CDSMP.