Better Choices, Better Health

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program


Better Choices, Better Health® is another name for the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program that was developed at Stanford University in 1996. This is a workshop for adults given two and half hours, once a week, for six weeks, in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries, and hospitals. People with different chronic health problems attend together. The chronic conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and others. Workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders, one or both of whom are non-health professionals with a chronic disease themselves.


Subjects covered in the workshops include: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, and, 6) how to evaluate new treatments.


Positive Outcomes


In the Stanford study, people who participated in the program demonstrated significant improvements in exercise, cognitive symptom management, communication with physicians, self-reported general health, health distress, fatigue, disability, and social/role activities limitations. They also spent fewer days in the hospital, and there was also a trend toward fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations.


Each participant in the workshop receives a copy of the companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.


It is the process in which the program is taught that makes if effective. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives.


The most important outcome of the Chronic Disease Self Management Program is that through this practice and group feedback people become more confident and are able to combine more active lives with self management of their chronic health condition.


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CDSMP Video Testimonial Bernice Harvey of Trenton, NJ, describes how participating in CDSMP helped her once again enjoy the activities she loves most.


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