SELF CARE SUPPORT NETWORKS

A systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of self care support networks in health and social care

Background

Self care is key to the development of a patient centred NHS. Support networks are one way in which self care can be initiated and supported. As part of an ongoing series of scoping/systematic reviews on self care topics, the Department of Health commissioned CRD to undertake scoping reviews of support networks in chronic disease, acute disease and minor illnesses, and in training and information in chronic diseases. Following the completion of these scoping reviews, a systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of self care support networks in health and social care was undertaken.

Findings

Forty-six studies were included in the systematic review, 23 from the US and only one from the UK. Most of the studies focused on long-term health conditions including arthritis/rheumatic diseases, diabetes, bulimia nervosa and depression. Many of the interventions were aimed at weight reduction through the use of peer support. Overall, the peer led programmes led to weight loss. The overall evidence for a beneficial effect of self care support networks (as a generic intervention) is very weak.

Conducted by: Nerys Woolacott1, Lois Orton1, Suzanne Beynon1, Lindsey Myers1, Carol Forbes1

1. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination

Publications

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. Systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of self care support networks in health and social care. CRD Report 34. York: University of York. 2006

Funding

Commissioned by the Department of Health