The self-management approach of health education in the treatment of chronic illnesses
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Health education is essential to the successful treatment of individuals with chronic illnesses. Self-management is a philosophical model of health education that has been shown to be effective in teaching individuals with chronic arthritis to manage their illness as part of their daily lives. Despite the proven results of arthritis self-management programs, some limitations of this form of health education were apparent in the literature. The present study attempted to address the problems of the self-management approach of health education such as reasons for lack of participation in programs and poor course outcomes. In addition, the study served to investigate the relationship between course outcomes and participation in programs with the theory upon which arthritis self-management programs are based, known as self-efficacy theory. Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, data collection, and analysis, a deeper understanding of the self-management phenomenon in the treatment of chronic arthritic conditions was established. Findings of the study confirm findings of previous studies that suggest that arthritis self-management programs result in enhanced levels of self-efficacy and are effective in teaching individuals with arthritis to self-manage their health and health care. Findings of the study suggest that there are many factors that determine the choice of participants to participate in programs and the outcomes for the individuals who do choose to participate in programs. Some of the major determinants of enrollment and outcomes of programs include: the participant's personality, beliefs, attitudes and abilities, and the degree of emotional acceptance of the illness. Other determinants of course enrollment and outcomes included class size and length of time, timing of participation, and ongoing support after the program. The results of the study are consistent with the self-management literature and confirm the relationship between the underlying philosophies of adult education and Freire's model of education and self-management.