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Do everyday problems of people with chronic illness interfere with their self-management?

Houtum, L. van, Rijken, M., Groenewegen, P. Do everyday problems of people with chronic illness interfere with their self-management? BMC Health Services Research: 2015, 15(1), p. 1000.
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Being chronically ill is a continuous process of balancing the demands of the illness and the demands of everyday life. Understanding how everyday life affects self-management might help to provide better professional support. However, little attention has been paid to the influence of everyday life on self-management. The purpose of this study is to examine to what extent problems in everyday life interfere with the self-management behaviour of people with chronic illness, i.e. their ability to manage their illness.

To estimate the effects of having everyday problems on self-management, cross-sectional linear regression analyses with propensity score matching were conducted. Data was used from 1731 patients with chronic disease(s) who participated in a nationwide Dutch panel-study.

One third of people with chronic illness encounter basic (e.g. financial, housing, employment) or social (e.g. partner, children, sexual or leisure) problems in their daily life. Younger people, people with poor health and people with physical limitations are more likely to have everyday problems. Experiencing basic problems is related to less active coping behaviour, while experiencing social problems is related to lower levels of symptom management and less active coping behaviour.

The extent of everyday problems interfering with self-management of people with chronic illness depends on the type of everyday problems encountered, as well as on the type of self-management activities at stake.

Healthcare providers should pay attention to the life context of people with chronic illness during consultations, as patients’ ability to manage their illness is related to it. (aut. ref.)