Disease self-management is an important method that empowers a patient to be competent in managing their disease. It is the development of knowledge and practical skills required to manage a disease, but also includes the development of coping strategies and resilience against letting the illness detrimentally impact healthy mental attitudes and regular involvement in society. Disease self-management interventions cannot be fully pre-planned and static, but rather, allow for flexibility as the unique needs of participants become increasingly visible.
The strategy of narrative medicine enables people with diseases, such as diabetes, to share their personal experiences with professionals and/or other patients in an attempt to discover methods of self-management. This can include learning about the disease, improving coping skills and attitudes, and developing the motivation to change one’s lifestyle. The potential for this approach to improve the health status of participants is amplified by the ability to analyze the common themes across participant narratives and determine a holistic approach to management. Shifting from a biomedical model to one that incorporates the experiences and backgrounds of patients can empower patients to develop strategies to manage their illness in a manner that fits their unique social context.
This research initiative will develop an intervention that will promote disease specific education in combination with empowering the patient by valuing their experiences and social interactions through using a storytelling approach. This serves as a new strategy that will create the opportunity for a collaborative peer support approach to management while taking into consideration cultural background, beliefs, values, and experiences of people.
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