Presentation: The Value of Self Management Education: Making the Case among People with Arthritis (2007)

719 The Value of Self Management Education: Making the Case among People with Arthritis

PURPOSE: The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore what value, if any, people with arthritis place on learning to self-manage, and to identify content areas, themes, and specific words that would resonate and motivate them to participate in self management education programs.
METHODS: A total of 8 focus groups were conducted in three cities (Chicago, Fresno, Norfolk). Caucasian or African American adults, ages 45-70, with self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis and some or many limitations on a typical day were recruited by telephone from the community to participate. Groups were segmented by gender and self-reported optimism or pessimism based on response to the statement: There is nothing a person with arthritis can do to make their arthritis better.
RESULTS: 72 adults participated in focus groups. The sample was equally balanced by gender and race. 61% of the sample had incomes of less than $50,000, 72% had more than a high school education, 54% were between ages 55-70, and 64% had at least one co-morbid condition.
Self management education (SME) was not top-of-mind for this sample; no participant spontaneously identified attending a class as something they could do to make their arthritis better, and the vast majority were unaware these programs existed. Participants saw value to SME if it provided new information for pain relief, improved communication with their physician, and an opportunity to learn and receive emotional support from other participants. Optimists were more able to identify potential benefits than were pessimists.
Most common motivators for enrollment in a SME program were reducing pain or limitations, increasing mobility, and maintaining independence.
The topic most likely to motivate people to attend a SME program was “ways to reduce pain” (83% of participants). Other topics endorsed by more than half the sample included: benefits of exercise and how to exercise safely, ways to move more easily or do more things, gaining a sense of control over arthritis, and sharing experiences or learning from others. Pessimists were more likely to value gaining a sense of control than were optimists, and more women and African Americans saw sharing experiences as valuable in comparison to men or Caucasians. The majority of participants preferred to call these topic areas techniques or strategies as opposed to skills or tools.
The term “self management” was overwhelmingly preferred over “self help” or “self care”. Most preferred programs described as “workshops” rather than courses or classes because workshop implied more interaction.
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that although most participants are unaware of SME programs, typical programs have content they would find valuable. However, these programs need to be described in ways that resonate with the target audience, and highlight themes and content areas most valued by people with arthritis. Marketing must clearly articulate the value proposition to better attract participants to self management education programs.

 T.J. Brady, None; S. Jernick, None.

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