Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs Expanding Across Virginia

Prevention and Care Management
March 2013

Education programs that help people better manage their chronic health conditions are widely used in Virginia and continue to expand under the direction of the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Family Health Services and the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Nearly 2,400 Virginians had completed Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) workshops as of September 2012, exceeding participation goals by more than 150 percent.

The CDSMP was developed by AHRQ-funded researcher Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH, a professor in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University. One of the chronic disease programs specifically addresses self-management for diabetes, while others offer general chronic disease self-management information and tools for individuals with conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, lung disease, and osteoporosis. Nearly 70 percent of participants in the workshops have multiple chronic conditions.

Program participation in Virginia was boosted greatly due to more than $1 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2010. The funds supported expansion of the program to 49 cities and counties across the State.

Each CDSMP workshop is 2.5 hours of highly interactive sessions, held weekly over 6 weeks and facilitated by two trained leaders, one or both of whom are not health professionals and who have chronic diseases themselves. Topics include effective communication, nutrition and exercise, how to evaluate new treatments, managing difficult emotions, and relaxation techniques.

One important element of the workshop is a weekly achievable action plan. Participants report that the process of developing and carrying out their action plans helps participants feel more confident in managing their illnesses and more in control of their lives. CDSMP workshops are held in community settings such as public libraries, community centers, or churches.

Tiara Green, MSEd, a program consultant at the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Family Health Services, says pre- and post-program assessments are conducted to measure changes in participants' knowledge and health status. "On average, final assessments reflect a 15 percent increase in knowledge of chronic disease management and an over 20 percent improvement in the amount of time spent in physical activity," says Green.

April Holmes, MSEd, coordinator of prevention programs at the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, says the ARRA funding led to improved operational capacity at the local Area Agencies on Aging and has also helped ensure that partnering agencies are following the specific workshop curriculum developed by Stanford. "It's been a wonderful opportunity, operating through the local programs, to strengthen delivery of these self-management workshops for adults age 60 and older," says Holmes.

Virginia has received Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act funding to continue expansion of the CDSMP in Virginia through August 2015. The grant is from the Administration for Community Living, one of AHRQ's sister agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Research
Topics(s): Chronic Care, Diabetes
Geographic Location: Virginia
Implementer: Virginia Department of Health
Date: 03/01/2013
Page last reviewed March 2013