Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Patient, manage thyself (but coaching may be available)

In Brief

Patient, manage thyself (but coaching may be available)

Illness often used to be swift and severe. Once people became patients, they were too sick to be anything but passive and follow doctor's orders, which were rather simple.

But now we're in the age of chronic illness, moving at deliberate speed: We live for years, if not decades, with conditions like arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Ideally, doctors don't boss patients around, but advise and enlighten them.

Patient self-management programs are one response to chronic disease. These program emphasize patients taking responsibility for control of their disease and setting realistic goals. The jargon ("self-efficacy," "organized learned experiences," "action plans") is off-putting. But if you can get beyond the trappings, they make a lot of sense.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »