Chronic disease self-management (CDSM) programs

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers
Date last updated

Chronic disease self-management (CDSM) programs support patients’ active management of their condition in their daily life through education and behavioral interventions. Programs vary by specific disease but often focus on self-monitoring and medical management, decision making, or adoption and maintenance of health-promoting behaviors. Programs are usually delivered in health care settings by health professionals, including specially trained nurses, but may also be provided by nurses or lay individuals in community settings. Some programs may also be delivered via a computer, text messaging, or applications (apps) on mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets1.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Improved health outcomes

  • Increased healthy behaviors

  • Improved quality of life

  • Increased self-efficacy

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Improved mental health

  • Reduced hospital utilization

  • Improved chronic disease management

  • Improved care for chronic conditions

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that chronic disease self-management (CDSM) programs improve health outcomes1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, increase healthy behaviors2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, improve quality of life9, 13, 14, 15, and increase self-efficacy for patients with various chronic conditions2, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16. Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects for specific symptoms and conditions.

CDSM programs reduce HbA1c levels1, 2, 17, 18 and improve systolic blood pressure in diabetic patients1, improve systolic18, 19 and diastolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension18, and improve diastolic blood pressure in patients with cardiovascular disease1. Programs also reduce the number of attacks in asthmatic patients19 and the frequency of symptoms, physical limitations, and depression for patients with stable angina4. Such programs may also improve osteoarthritis symptoms18, 20.

CDSM for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been shown to improve quality of life13, 15, particularly if it includes an action plan to recognize and treat exacerbation of symptoms13. CDSM can also reduce emergency room visits for COPD, especially if programs target mental health and symptom management15. Programs may reduce hospitalizations when used for specific conditions such as COPD3, 13, but do not appear to affect hospitalization rates overall8, 9.

Chronic disease self-management programs may improve patients’ communication with physicians7, 8. CDSM led by specially trained nurses in chronic care community-based programs can improve health outcomes among patients with diabetes or cardiovascular disease1. Theory-based CDSM programs have been shown to increase self-efficacy and diabetes knowledge and improve HbA1C among patients with diabetes2.

Computer-based self-management programs delivered in health care settings can improve patient health behaviors and clinical outcomes11. Web-based CDSM programs can reduce depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and improve overall quality of life for individuals living with cancer as a chronic disease21. Computer and mobile-based interventions may increase quality of life and level of activity for people with COPD in the short-term22. Web-based CDSM appears to improve conditions such as asthma, recurrent pain, and obesity among youth23 and increase self-efficacy and disease management activities among older adults16. Web-based CDSM also appears to improve health behaviors and clinical and psychological outcomes in patients with diabetes10. Programs that use text messaging increase patients’ adherence appointments, antiretroviral therapy, and short-term smoking quit rates12. International studies suggest mobile health (mHealth) apps used for CDSM show potential to improve health outcomes and symptom management17.

CDSM programs have been shown to benefit various populations including adults with serious mental illness5 and minority groups in the short-term6. CDSM has also been shown to improve activities of daily living (ADL) for community-dwelling older adults with chronic conditions24. Additional evidence is needed to determine effects for chronically ill patients with low incomes25.

Implementation Examples

There are many types of chronic disease self-management (CDSM) programs implemented across the Unites States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Council on Aging each provide lists of CDSM programs, specific to conditions such as arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes26, 27. The Self-Management Resource Center maintains the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, created by Stanford, which is widely used and available in English and Spanish28.

Implementation Resources

SMRC-CDSMP - Self-Management Resource Center (SMRC). Chronic disease self-management program (CDSMP).

CDSMP-Toolkit - National Council on Aging. Chronic disease self-management program (CDSMP): A toolkit for hospitals. 2012.

CDC-CDSM - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Self-management education: Learn more. Feel better. Managing chronic conditions (any).

NCOA-CDSM - National Council on Aging (NCOA). Chronic disease self-management (CDSM) programs.


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1 Massimi 2017 - Massimi A, De Vito C, Brufola I, et al. Are community-based nurse-led self-management support interventions effective in chronic patients? Results of a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(3):e0173617.

2 Zhao 2017 - Zhao FF, Suhonen R, Koskinen S, Leino-Kilpi H. Theory-based self-management educational interventions on patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2017;73(4):812-833.

3 Cochrane-Zwerink 2014 - Zwerink M, Brusse-Keizer M, van der Valk PDLPM, et al. Self management for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Review. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014;(3):CD002990.

4 McGillion 2014 - McGillon M, O'Keefe-McCarthy S, Carroll SL, et al. Impact of self-management interventions on stable angina symptoms and health-related quality of life: A meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 2014;14:1-10.

5 Siantz 2014 - Siantz E, Aranda MP. Chronic disease self-management interventions for adults with serious mental illness: A systematic review of the literature. General Hospital Psychiatry. 2014;36(3):233-244.

6 Sidhu 2014 - Sidhu MS, Gale NK, Gill P, et al. A systematic review of lay-led group-based self-management interventions for minority ethnic populations diagnosed with long-term conditions in high income countries. Diversity and Equality in Health and Care. 2014;11(3-4):225-236.

7 Brady 2013 - Brady TJ, Murphy L, O’Colmain BJ, et al. A meta-analysis of health status, health behaviors, and health care utilization outcomes of the chronic disease self-management program. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2013;10:1-14.

8 Franek 2013 - Franek J. Self-management support interventions for persons with chronic disease: An evidence-based analysis. Ontario Health Technology Assessment Series. 2013;13(9):1-60.

9 Cochrane-Foster 2007 - Foster G, Taylor SJC, Eldridge S, Ramsay J, Griffiths CJ. Self-management education programmes by lay leaders for people with chronic conditions. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007;(4):CD005108.

10 van Vugt 2013 - van Vugt M, de Wit M, Cleijne WHJJ, Snoek FJ. Use of behavioral change techniques in web-based self-management programs for type 2 diabetes patients: Systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2013;15(12):e279.

11 McDermott 2013 - McDermott MS, While AE. Maximizing the healthcare environment: A systematic review exploring the potential of computer technology to promote self-management of chronic illness in healthcare settings. Patient Education and Counseling. 2013;92(1):13-22.

12 Jones 2014 - Jones KR, Lekhak N, Kaewluang N. Using mobile phones and short message service to deliver self-management interventions for chronic conditions: A meta-review. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing. 2014;11(2):81-88.

13 Cochrane-Lenferink 2017 - Lenferink A, Brusse-Keizer M, van der Valk PDLPM, et al. Self-management interventions including action plans for exacerbations versus usual care in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017;(8):CD011682.

14 Cochrane-Fryer 2016 - Fryer CE, Luker JA, McDonnell MN, Hillier SL. Self management programmes for quality of life in people with stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016;(8):CD010442.

15 Newham 2017 - Newham JJ, Presseau J, Heslop-Marshall K, et al. Features of self-management interventions for people with COPD associated with improved health-related quality of life and reduced emergency department visits: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 2017;12:1705-1720.

16 Stellefson 2013a - Stellefson M, Chaney B, Barry AE, et al. Web 2.0 chronic disease self-management for older adults: a systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2013;15(2):e35.

17 Whitehead 2016 - Whitehead L, Seaton P. The effectiveness of self-management mobile phone and tablet apps in long-term condition management: A systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2016;18(5):e97.

18 Chodosh 2005 - Chodosh J, Morton SC, Mojica W, et al. Meta-analysis: Chronic disease self-management programs for older adults. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2005;143(6):427-438.

19 Warsi 2004 - Warsi A, Wang PS, LaValley MP, Avorn J, Solomon DH. Self-management education programs in chronic disease: A systematic review and methodological critique of the literature. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2004;164(5):1641-1649.

20 Cochrane-Kroon 2014 - Kroon FPB, van der Burg LRA, Buchbinder R, et al. Self-management education programmes for osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014;1:CD008953.

21 Kim 2015a - Kim AR, Park HA. Web-based self-management support interventions for cancer survivors: A systematic review and meta-analyses. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics. 2015;216:142-147.

22 Cochrane-McCabe 2017 - McCabe C, McCann M, Brady AM. Computer and mobile technology interventions for self-management in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017;(5):CD011425.

23 Stinson 2009 - Stinson J, Wilson R, Gill N, Yamada J, Holt J. A systematic review of internet-based self-management interventions for youth with health conditions. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2009;34(5):495-510.

24 van het Bolscher-Niehuis 2016 - van het Bolscher-Niehuis MJT, den Ouden MEM, de Vocht HM, Francke AL. Effects of self-management support programmes on activities of daily living of older adults: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2016;61:230-247.

25 Van Hecke 2017 - Van Hecke A, Heinen M, Fernández-Ortega P, et al. Systematic literature review on effectiveness of self-management support interventions in patients with chronic conditions and low socio-economic status. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2017;73(4):775-793.

26 CDC-CDSM - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Self-management education: Learn more. Feel better. Managing chronic conditions (any).

27 NCOA-CDSM - National Council on Aging (NCOA). Chronic disease self-management (CDSM) programs.

28 SMRC-CDSMP - Self-Management Resource Center (SMRC). Chronic disease self-management program (CDSMP).