Paper on social networks support published

A foundational aim of the people with long term conditions (patients) research theme was to address an epidemiological gap in the provision of support for self-care for people with a long term condition.  The team considered that the translation and implementation of a self-care agenda in contemporary health and social context needed to acknowledge and incorporate the resources and networks operating in patients’ domestic and social environments and everyday lives. The results of an ambitious survey illuminating how and to what extent the efforts and relationships in peoples’ personal networks has now been published in the PLOS One Journal.

During the study, 300 people with a chronic illness who live in deprived areas of the North West, completed a survey to help identify the various social networks they access to support them with the management of their illness.

The results provide an articulation of how social network members are substantially involved in illness management. Whilst partners and close family provide the most support, findings show that there is evidence to suggest that patients are supported by a wider social network.

Theme lead for the People with Long Term Conditions (Patients) Research Theme, Professor Anne Rogers, said: “Evidence for the success of self-management support has to date focussed on individually-centred outcomes of behavioural change at the expense of wider influences and resources.  The results provide a new way of looking at how and to what degree social network members are substantially involved in illness management. The results redress the balance of an exclusively individual focus on self-management because through illuminating  the nature of a much broader set of contributions and resources available to people in need of chronic illness management and support.