Implemented widely by the Administration on Aging, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Council on Aging.


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I. General description of program

  • CDSMP is a lay-led participant education program offered in communities in the United States and many other countries. Participants are adults experiencing chronic health conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and diabetes; their family members, friends and caregivers can also participate.
  • The program provides information and teaches practical skills on managing chronic health problems. The CDSMP gives people the confidence and motivation they need to manage the challenges of living with a chronic health condition.

II. Program goal

  • The overall goal is to enable participants to build self-confidence to take part in maintaining their health and managing their chronic health conditions.

III. Reasoning behind the program design and elements:

  • People with chronic conditions have similar concerns and problems;
  • People with chronic conditions must deal not only with their disease(s), but also with the impact on their lives and emotions;
  • Lay people with chronic conditions, when given a detailed leader’s manual, can teach the CDSMP as effectively, if not more effectively, than health professionals (Lorig et al, 1999);
  • The process or the way the CDSMP is taught is as important, if not more important, than the subject matter that is taught.

IV. Target population

  • Adults with chronic diseases

V. Essential program components and activities

  • The CDSMP focuses on problems common to individuals suffering from chronic diseases.  Coping strategies such as action planning and feedback, behavior modeling, problem-solving techniques, and decision making are applicable to all chronic diseases. Individuals are taught to control their symptoms through:

s  Breathing techniques;

s  Healthy eating;

s  Action planning;

s  Understanding emotions;

s  Problem solving;

s  Using your mind;

s  Sleep;

s  Communication;

s  Weight management;

s  Medication management;

s  Physical activity; and

s  Communication with health care providers.

  • The CDSMP covers the following topics:
~    The mind-body connection; ~     Positive thinking;
~    Healthy eating, meal planning and reading nutritional labels; ~     Communication with family/friends/physicians;
~    Dealing with anger, depression, and other negative emotions; ~     Using prescribed medication appropriately;
~    Physical activity and exercise; ~     Getting a good night’s sleep;
~    Preventing falls and improving balance; ~     Making informed treatment decisions;
~    Pain and fatigue management; ~     Working with health care providers; and
~    Relaxation, distraction and breathing techniques; ~     Developing decision-making and problem-solving skills.

VI. Length/Timeframe of program

  • 2.5 hours per week over a 6 week period.

VII. Recommended class size

  • 10-16 people

VIII. Desired outcomes

  • Increases in healthy behaviors (i.e., exercise and cognitive symptom management

techniques, such as relaxation);

  • Positive changes in health status (less pain, fatigue, and worry; less health distress);
  • Increased self-efficacy;
  • Better communications with health providers;
  • Fewer visits to physicians and emergency rooms.

IX.            Program effectiveness

  • Over 1,000 people with heart disease, lung disease, stroke or arthritis participated in a randomized, controlled test of the CDSMP, and were followed for up to three years.
  • Subjects who took the Program, when compared to those who did not, 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 outpatients visits and hospitalizations.
  • These data yield a cost to savings ratio of approximately 1:4. Many of these results persist for as long as three years.