Health problems that need ongoing management over a number of years are called long-term conditions. Given their nature, people living with these long-term conditions are particularly likely to benefit from supported self-care, and most research regarding self-care has been done in the context of the management of long-term conditions.

National Voices have carried out an extensive review of the evidence regarding supported self-care for people with long-term conditions. They looked at the evidence for the effectiveness of different types of self-care, including different types of education programmes, the use of technology, the use of self-monitoring and the training of professionals to support self-care. From this evidence, they concluded that the best ways to support self-care are:

  • To provide self-care education for people with specific conditions and to integrate this into routine healthcare;
  • To provide general self-care education courses which are co-led by peers or lay people;
  • To offer interactive on-line self-care courses;
  • To offer telephone support and tele-health initiatives;
  • To support self-monitoring of medication and symptoms.

National Voices found that these interventions helped to improve people’s knowledge about their condition, about how to self-care, and how to use health services most appropriately. They also found that self-care support could help to improve people’s coping skills, their confidence in managing their conditions, their feelings of being supported and their overall feelings of satisfaction.

Long-term conditions are often associated with anxiety and depression and this might explain why the evidence showed that improving self-care can also improve mental wellbeing. It was also demonstrated that supporting self-care can reduce the use of healthcare services and therefore the cost of these services.

The National Voices report also found that involving family members may help make self-care more sustainable and it would seem likely that this might be particularly relevant when considering the care of older people with frailty.

Key reports:

National Voices Systematic Review

National Voices Summarising evidence from systematic reviews report

Health Foundation Report

Sustaining and Spreading Self-Management Support, Health Foundation report

The Health Foundation: Co-creating Health Phase 1 evaluation


Helping people help themselves


A rapid synthesis of the evidence on interventions supporting self-management for people with long-term conditions: PRISMS – Practical systematic Review of Self-Management Support for long-term conditions

Reducing Care Utilisation through Self-management Interventions (RECURSIVE): a systematic review and meta-analysis

Supported Self-Management