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Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Can Help Prevent or Delay Disability in Patients

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Press Release Date: June 7, 2002

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced research showing that the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP)—developed at the Stanford University Patient Education Research Center with AHRQ funding—can help prevent or delay disability, even in patients with heart disease, hypertension or arthritis. Additional AHRQ-funded research has also shown that education and lifestyle changes can reduce disability, control costs, and have a positive influence on the quality of life of elderly Americans.

Although people tend to develop chronic conditions as they age, growing old does not have to mean becoming disabled. The CDSMP is a 17-hour course taught by trained lay people that teaches patients with chronic disease how to better manage their symptoms, adhere to medication regimens, and maintain functional ability. The course is held in community settings like senior centers, churches, libraries, and hospitals.

Over a period of 2 years, the study revealed that participants had improvements in a variety of health-related conditions, including more energy and less fatigue, reduced health stress, and fewer visits to physicians and emergency rooms. This translated into a 2-year savings of from $390 to $520 per patient after the cost of the CDSMP ($70 to $200) because participants used fewer health care services. The program has been so successful, it has been implemented both nationally and internationally.

Information on the CDSMP and the results of other AHRQ-funded research on disability are captured in a new Agency publication titled Research in Action: Preventing Disability in the Elderly With Chronic Disease. This is the third in a series of Research in Action syntheses begun in 2001. It is available online at or from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364.


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