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Chronic disease self-management in Aboriginal communities: towards a sustainable program of care in rural communities

  • Year: 2003
  • Author: Ah Kit, Jackie; Prideaux, Colleen; Harvey, Peter; Collins, Jim; Battersby, Malcolm; Mills, David; Dansie, Sylvia
  • Journal Name: Australian Journal of Primary Health
  • Journal Number: Vol.9, Nos 2-3
  • Country: Australia

The Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) strategy for Aboriginal patients on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, was designed to develop and trial new program tools and processes for goal setting, behaviour change and self-management for Aboriginal people with diabetes. The project was established as a one-year demonstration project to test and trial a range of CDSM processes and procedures within Aboriginal communities and not as a formal research project. Over a one-year period, 60 Aboriginal people with type-2 diabetes in two remote regional centres participated in the pilot program. This represents around 25% of the known Aboriginal diabetic population in these sites. The project included training for four Aboriginal Health Workers in goal setting and self-management strategies in preparation for them to run the program. Patients completed a Diabetes Assessment Tool, a Quality of Life Questionnaire (SF12), the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WASAS) at 0, 6 and 12 months. The evaluation tools were assessed and revised by consumers and health professionals during the trial to determine the most functional and acceptable processes for Aboriginal patients. Some limited biomedical data were also recorded although this was not the principal purpose of the project. Initial results from the COAG coordinated care trial in Eyre suggest that goal setting and monitoring processes, when modified to be culturally inclusive of Aboriginal people, can be effective strategies for improving self-management skills and health-related behaviours of patients with chronic illness. The CDSM pilot study in Aboriginal communities has led to further refinement of the tools and processes used in chronic illness self-management programs for Aboriginal people and to greater acceptance of these processes in the communities involved. Participation in a diabetes self-management program run by Aboriginal Health Workers assists patients to identify and understand their health problems and develop condition management goals and patient-centred solutions that can lead to improved health and wellbeing for participants. While the development of self-management tools and strategies led to some early indications of improvements in patient participation and resultant health outcomes, the pilot program and the refinement of new assessment tools used to assist this process has been the significant outcome of the project. The CDSM process described here is a valuable strategy for educating and supporting people with chronic conditions and in gaining their participation in programs designed to improve the way they manage their illness. Such work, and the subsequent health outcome research planned for rural regions, will contribute to the development of more comprehensive CDSM programs for Aboriginal communities generally.

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