Objectives: To understand social processes underpinning support for self-management of long-term conditions in primary care.
Methods: Comparative analysis of observational and interview data concerning the management of long-term conditions in UK primary-care consultations. Analysis of recordings of primary care consultations (n = 86) was conducted in conjunction with analysis of semi-structured interviews with health professionals (n = 17) and patients (n = 12) living with a long-term condition.
Results: A key finding was the infrequency with which self-management topics became legitimate objects for discussion in consultations. Analysis suggested that the maintenance of self-other relations was a prime objective for both patients and professionals, and the introduction of self-management topics threatened this process. Technology and the division of labour among primary-care professionals reinforced this tension.
Discussion: In order for self-management support to become embedded and integrated into primary care, interventions concerning long-term condition management need to take into account this tension underpinning care.