Self-management is crucial to becoming healthcare smart!


Self-management is the ability and desire a patient demonstrates to learn about their health and follow health information.


Providers foster self-management by helping build patient confidence and mastery.

Providers who teach self-care behaviors must do so consistently and with an awareness of health literacy challenges. Self-management support can inspire people to learn more about their conditions and to take an active role in their health care.


Self-Management Support

  • Support for self-management is crucial for those who must self-monitor and adjust a daily therapy for a chronic disease.
  • Confirming patient understanding, regardless of the complexity of medical information, is a universal precaution for health care providers.
  • Plain language communication in the medical context benefits people at every education level.
  • Studies show providers often over-estimate patient understanding. Teach-back is a most useful technique to avoid this pitfall.
  • Stress reduces the ability to process and recall information.
  • The ability to use and correctly interpret health information is learned in stages.
  • Periodic refreshers help patients sustain their self-management skills over time.
  • At the private practice level, care coordination and patient navigation services should be available as an extension of provider teaching.

Medication Self-Management

Medication self-management is an important aspect of health literacy. Often, those with chronic illness have complex medical management needs, and likely take multiple prescription drugs. The oral or written instructions for medication management may be insufficient or confusing. This is a patient safety issue. Non-adherence or misuse of medications can result if patients do not understand their prescriptions.  A thoughtful look at clear and simple communication is important.

  • Encourage questions.
  • Confirm understanding.
  • Use handouts with illustrations/pictures.
  • Confirm medication accuracy and be alert to numeracy skills as well as reading skills.