Stanford studies online self-management for people with chronic diseases
STANFORD, Calif. - People who have been diagnosed with heart disease, lung disease or type-II diabetes are invited to join a six-week Stanford University Medical Center study that teaches self-management skills. Called Self Management @ Stanford, Healthier Living with Ongoing Health Problems, the online workshop helps participants learn skills to manage their chronic disease and to maintain or increase their level of activity. The two-year study will focus on how effective the Internet can be in helping people with chronic conditions live better, more active lives. Since the study will be conducted online, any U.S. resident is invited to participate.
"We've been offering similar classes in the community for the past 10 years," said Katy Matthews, study coordinator. "We've found them to be really beneficial. Participants remark that they feel better, more confident and are more active after completing the workshops." By adapting the self-management course to the online environment, Stanford hopes to reach people who wouldn't necessarily be able to attend community classes or who prefer online workshops, Matthews said.
Participants need to have Internet access and an active e-mail account. They will be enrolled in an online workshop with 15 to 20 other people who have also been diagnosed with heart disease, lung disease or type-II diabetes. The workshops are facilitated by two leaders, one or both of whom also has a chronic condition. Participation is free. Participants are asked to log on two to three times a week for a total of one to two hours. They can work at their own pace, and have a week to get through each subject area.
Workshop topics include dealing with frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility and endurance; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals; healthy eating; making informed treatment decisions; disease-related problem solving; and advanced directives. Sessions are highly interactive through e-mail and online discussion boards.
In two pilot classes, participants were surprised by how easily they formed an online community, engaged in problem solving with others and felt like a cohesive group, said Matthews.
The study, sponsored by the Stanford University School of Medicine, is funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson and Archstone foundations. Qualified participants will be randomly assigned to either the workshop or a control group. Over a 12-month period, both groups will complete three online questionnaires about their health status, health-care utilization and self-management behaviors. The control group will not receive the workshop, but will receive a gift certificate after completing each questionnaire. At the end of the 12-month period, the control-group participants will also receive the book used in the workshop.
The program is based on long-term research by Kate Lorig, DrPH, professor of medicine at Stanford, a nurse and longtime proponent of self-management techniques. U.S. residents who wish to enroll in the study or receive more information may call (800) 366-2624 or visit the program's Web site at http://healthyliving.stanford.edu.
Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.