The aim of this national patient activation survey was to get a better understanding of the level of activation of health care consumers to ascertain how receptive they might be to models of service delivery that require them to be more involved in their own care. Often lack of engagement - or activation - is cited as a barrier to increasing self-management and shared decision-making and hence better experiences of care and health outcomes.

Patient self-management or activation is a patient’s knowledge, skill and confidence to take on the role of managing their health and healthcare (Hibberd and Gilburt, et al 2005).

For the purposes of this research project, chronic illnesses comprised: arthritis or osteoporosis; asthma; cancers (such as lung and colorectal cancer); heart or circulatory conditions (such as coronary heart disease and stroke); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diabetes; mental health conditions; including depression or anxiety; long-term injury (such as back pain or back problems); and “any other long-term health condition”.

The findings suggest that should health policy and practice systemically incorporate measures designed to improve levels patient activation, the overall health outcomes and experiences of Australians with chronic illnesses could be improved. Investing in measures to assist general practices and patients leverage patient activation to navigate the range of services they need to exercise choice and control in their healthcare as part of a comprehensive national primary health care reform strategy would deliver high value care for those with chronic illnesses. Measures should include shared decision-making practices, tools and resources to support shared-decision-making, evidence-based self-management services, workforce development in the form of practice-based health coaches and service coordinators and a social prescribing scheme.

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