To explore the perspectives of patients who live with multiple chronic conditions as they relate to the challenges of self-management.
On September 30, 2013, we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL using relevant key words including chronic disease, comorbidity, multimorbidity, multiple chronic conditions, self-care, self-management, perspective, and perception.
Three reviewers assessed and extracted the data from the included studies after study quality was rated. Qualitative thematic synthesis method was then used to identify common themes. Twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria, with most coming from the United States.
Important themes raised by people living with multiple chronic conditions related to their ability to self-manage included living with undesirable physical and emotional symptoms, with pain and depression highlighted. Issues with conflicting knowledge, access to care, and communication with health care providers were raised. The use of cognitive strategies, including reframing, prioritizing, and changing beliefs, was reported to improve people’s ability to self-manage their multiple chronic conditions.
This study provides a unique view into patients’ perspectives of living with multiple chronic conditions, which are clearly linked to common functional challenges as opposed to specific diseases. Future policy and programming in self-management support should be better aligned with patients’ perspectives on living with multiple chronic conditions. This might be achieved by ensuring a more patient-centred approach is adopted by providers and health service organizations.