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Self-management support for chronic disease in primary care: frequency of patient self-management problems and patient reported priorities, and alignment with ultimate behavior goal selection.

  • Author(s): Hessler, Danielle M
  • Fisher, Lawrence
  • Bowyer, Vicky
  • Dickinson, L Miriam
  • Jortberg, Bonnie T
  • Kwan, Bethany
  • Fernald, Douglas H
  • Simpson, Matt
  • Dickinson, W Perry
  • et al.


To enable delivery of high quality patient-centered care, as well as to allow primary care health systems to allocate appropriate resources that align with patients' identified self-management problems (SM-Problems) and priorities (SM-Priorities), a practical, systematic method for assessing self-management needs and priorities is needed. In the current report, we present patient reported data generated from Connection to Health (CTH), to identify the frequency of patients' reported SM-Problems and SM-Priorities; and examine the degree of alignment between patient SM-Priorities and the ultimate Patient-Healthcare team member selected Behavioral Goal.


CTH, an electronic self-management support system, was embedded into the flow of existing primary care visits in 25 primary care clinics and was used to assess patient-reported SM-Problems across 12 areas, patient identified SM-Priorities, and guide the selection of a Patient-Healthcare team member selected Behavioral Goal. SM-Problems included: BMI, diet (fruits and vegetables, salt, fat, sugar sweetened beverages), physical activity, missed medications, tobacco and alcohol use, health-related distress, general life stress, and depression symptoms. Descriptive analyses documented SM-Problems and SM-Priorities, and alignment between SM-Priorities and Goal Selection, followed by mixed models adjusting for clinic.


446 participants with ≥ one chronic diseases (mean age 55.4 ± 12.6; 58.5% female) participated. On average, participants reported experiencing challenges in 7 out of the 12 SM-Problems areas; with the most frequent problems including: BMI, aspects of diet, and physical activity. Patient SM-Priorities were variable across the self-management areas. Patient- Healthcare team member Goal selection aligned well with patient SM-Priorities when patients prioritized weight loss or physical activity, but not in other self-management areas.


Participants reported experiencing multiple SM-Problems. While patients show great variability in their SM-Priorities, the resulting action plan goals that patients create with their healthcare team member show a lack of diversity, with a disproportionate focus on weight loss and physical activity with missed opportunities for using goal setting to create targeted patient-centered plans focused in other SM-Priority areas. Aggregated results can assist with the identification of high frequency patient SM-Problems and SM-Priority areas, and in turn inform resource allocation to meet patient needs.

Trial registration ID: NCT01945918 .

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