The ongoing support needs of people with long-term conditions following attendance at self-management programmes: a qualitative study

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Aim:This paper is a report of a study of the ongoing support needs of individuals with long-term conditions who have attended self-management programmes.Background:Clinical research and policy developments have placed increased emphasis on self-management as a strategy for dealing with people with long-term conditions. These strategies have focused on a range of different interventions of which self-management programmes are one. Such programmes are often time limited, highly structured courses, which have been widely researched and shown to be effective. However, what happens to individuals after they have attended these programmes and what their ongoing support needs are, has received less attention.Methods:An exploratory qualitative design using focus groups and telephone interviews was used to collect data. The sample consisted of 24 participants. Telephone interviews were offered to all participants to follow up on themes from the focus groups. In total three people participated in these. The data were collected between May and July 2011 and analysed using thematic content analysis.Findings:Five themes were identified: (1) accessibility, (2) companionship, (3) being and feeling valued, (4) empowerment, and (5) the limits of the medical model.Conclusion:To facilitate self-management, healthcare professionals need to understand the value of peer-to-peer interaction. Healthcare practitioners, as well as those who organise and deliver self-management programmes have an important role in signposting people with long-term conditions to services within local communities which can offer ongoing support.

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