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Targeting “hardly reached” people with chronic illness: a feasibility study of a person-centered self-management education approach

Authors Varming AR, Torenholt R, Helms Andersen T, Møller BL, Willaing I

Received 18 September 2017

Accepted for publication 15 December 2017

Published 15 February 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 275—289


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Annemarie Reinhardt Varming,1 Rikke Torenholt,1 Tue Helms Andersen,2 Birgitte Lund Møller,3 Ingrid Willaing1

1Diabetes Management Research, Health Promotion, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, The Capital Region of Denmark, 2Danish Diabetes Association, 3Department of Intersectoral Collaboration, Region of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Background: Self-management education is critical to the development of successful health behavior changes related to chronic illness. However, people in high-risk groups attend less frequently or benefit less from patient education programs than do people with more socioeconomic advantages.
Aim: The aim was to test the feasibility of a participatory person-centered education approach and tool-kit targeting self-management of chronic illness in hardly reached people.
Methods: After participating in a training program, educators (n=77) tested the approach in practice. Data collection included online questionnaires for educators (n=65), observations of education sessions (n=7), and interviews with educators (n=11) and participants (n=22). Descriptive statistics were calculated. Transcripts of interviews and observations were analyzed using systematic text condensation. Feasibility was examined in terms of practicality, integration, suitability, and efficacy.
Results: Educators had a positive response to the approach and found that the tools supported involving participants in education and support. Participant satisfaction varied, depending on the ability of educators to integrate the tools into programs in a meaningful way. The tools provided time for reflection in the education process that benefited participants and educators alike. Educators found it challenging to allow participants to help set the agenda and to exchange experiences without educator control. Barriers to use reported by educators included lack of time for both training and preparation.
Limitations: The testing included varied groups of participants, some groups included members of hardly reached populations and others did not. Also, some tools were only tried in practice by a few educators.
Conclusion: The approach was feasible in terms of practicality, integration, acceptability, and efficacy and perceived by educators as suitable for both hardly reached participants and those who are less disadvantaged. Implementation of the approach requires time for training and preparation.

Keywords: health care educators, professional development, skills, vulnerable patients, support, participatory, dialogue tools, tool kit

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