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York Researchers Investigate Ways for People to Manage Long Term Health Conditions

science

4:27pm 31st March 2014

Health economists at the University of York are to carry out research into the value that people with chronic long-term conditions, such as asthma, cancer, and coronary heart disease, place on interventions aimed to support self-management of their health condition.

The study, led by Professor Andrea Manca, of the University’s Centre for Health Economics, is one of a series of new research projects, involving three of the UK’s leading universities, which will develop understanding of the value patients place on ‘self-management support’ in coping with long-term health conditions.

The projects will use innovative ‘discrete choice’ techniques, as a way of finding out the preferences of patients as to the type (and features) of self-management support they would like to receive, by asking respondents to make choices between a number of competing hypothetical scenarios describing competing interventions in terms of their key characteristics (e.g. number and duration of each session, contact with healthcare professionals).

The Health Foundation, an independent healthcare charity, has made three awards totalling £480,000 to York and the universities of Aberdeen and Sheffield to generate new knowledge into this area. The aim is to help decision makers in the NHS to identify, adapt and refine support for their patients.

Self-management support is the assistance given to those with long-term conditions to handle their health on a daily basis. Better self-management support means that patients move away from being passive recipients of care to having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed decisions through useful collaborations and conversations with health professionals.

The three projects will run separately but combined will enhance knowledge of value and support for self-management. The results will provide NHS commissioners, providers and clinicians with the evidence needed to implement further support for patients whose lives can be improved through supported self-management.

Professor Manca said: “Long-term conditions now account for about 50 per cent of all GP appointments, 64 per cent of all outpatient appointments and over 70 per cent of all inpatient bed days, according to the Department of Health.  Around 70 per cent of the total health and care spend in England is attributed to caring for people with long term conditions. In other words, 30 per cent of the population directly or indirectly accounts for 70 per cent of the annual spend. 

“Self-management, and strategies aimed to support its use, may have a positive impact on people’s clinical symptoms, attitudes, quality of life and patterns of healthcare resource use.    Our research project aims to assess the value that people with long term health conditions place on self-management support interventions.  These results will provide decision-makers with important information to support the provision of value for money person-centred self-management support interventions for people with long term conditions.”

Helen Crisp, Assistant Director of Research at the Health Foundation added: “The combination of these three projects will produce new knowledge and thinking as to what patients really value in terms of their care, which could result in potential savings for healthcare providers. We are looking forward to working with these internationally renowned experts in discrete choice experiments at Aberdeen, Sheffield and York. The findings from these projects will further our mission to improve the quality of care.”

The research findings for all three projects will be available in early 2016. 

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