Self management – a very vexing definition

A very sage speaker at a conference once said the patient is better when they are “doing all their normal activities, back at work, off medications, not seeing other health practitioners on the side…” A good insight!

HealthSkills Blog
Self management is one of those terms that is used to describe the aim of cognitive behavioural programmes for chronic pain. It’s even in my description of this blog! At the same time, it’s difficult to arrive at a definition of self management that “everyone” agrees upon.

Self management can mean helping people to be “actively involved in their health care and to provide a variety of creative and individualized strategies to deal with their health problem in their daily life and ultimately to live as normally as possible despite their symptoms” (Zuffery & Schulz, 2009) – but the Devil is in the details!

What exactly does being “actively involved” mean?  Can it mean accessing treatments like massage, injections, acupuncture “as needed”? Or does it mean exclusively managing pain without recourse to so-called “passive” treatments?  And what are the implications of either of these two options (and yes, shades in between)?

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