Some personality factors may affect success of chronic illness self-management programs

Research Activities, January 2011, No. 365

A variety of chronic disease self-management programs are offered to patients with such conditions as asthma, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Such programs are designed to improve a patient's ability to manage their own illness (self-efficacy). Although these programs demonstrate short-term success at 4-6 months, little is known about what individual personality factors may enhance or diminish this success. A new study shows that patients with low levels of conscientiousness are more likely to benefit from such a program. Anthony Jerant, M.D., of the University of California Davis School of Medicine, and colleagues looked at the impact of the Five Factor Model of personality factors on the success of an illness self-management program on 384 patients from 12 primary care offices.

All had one or more chronic illnesses, including arthritis, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression, and diabetes. The patients were randomized to receive the self-management intervention either at home or by telephone. A second control group had an initial home visit, but then received care from their usual providers. They were all given questionnaires to measure their self-rated mental and physical health. Patients with high neuroticism (moody and easily upset), low conscientiousness, low extraversion, and low agreeableness, had worse initial self-rated mental health scores. Participants in the home intervention had better mental health scores at 4 and 6 weeks compared with the control group. However, these benefits were limited to participants with low conscientiousness, with no differences observed at 6 months or 1 year.

Physical health scores were unaffected by the intervention or by personality characteristics. According to the researchers, assessing personality traits prior to enrollment in a chronic disease self-management program may help determine who will benefit the most from it. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13603).

See "Effects of personality on self-rated health in a 1-year randomized controlled trial of chronic illness self-management," by Dr. Jerant, Benjamin Chapman, Ph.D., Paul Duberstein, Ph.D., and Peter Franks, M.D., in the May 2010 British Journal of Health Psychology 15(Pt 2), pp. 321-335.

Current as of January 2011
Internet Citation: Some personality factors may affect success of chronic illness self-management programs: Research Activities, January 2011, No. 365. January 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.