The role of information in supporting self-care in vascular conditions: a conceptual and empirical review

Health Soc Care Community. 2011 Sep;19(5):449-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2010.00975.x. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Self-care has the potential to make a significant contribution to vascular conditions, but engagement with self-care support has been limited. Lack of relevant information is highlighted by patients and policy-makers as an important barrier to effective self-care, and information provides a potentially efficient platform for changing behaviour. However, work within the social sciences has generally seen information as a necessary but insufficient driver of health behaviours. Furthermore, some groups (such as the socially disadvantaged) are expected to be less amenable to information interventions. We conducted an integrated conceptual and empirical review on information-based interventions for people with vascular disease (diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease). We reviewed conceptual and empirical work concerning the role and impact of information in self-care support to generate an explanatory framework to determine why information was effective or ineffective in encouraging self-care in patients with vascular conditions. This involved mapping relevant theories and models linking information and self-care. We also explored published systematic reviews of educational interventions in diabetes, coronary heart disease and chronic kidney disease to examine the role of information and evidence concerning its effectiveness and impact in different patient populations. The conceptual review identified variation among information interventions in terms of type, function, and their relationship to behaviour change techniques and psychological mediators of behaviour change. Key moderators of the effect of information included types of disorder, and patient capacity and resources. A wealth of educational interventions exists for diabetes and heart conditions, but the precise components of these interventions that are effective are difficult to identify. There is little evidence concerning optimal ways of tailoring interventions for socially disadvantaged groups other than ethnic minorities. A focus on printed information may not provide access to effective methods of information delivery (e.g. tailored information, use of narratives and user generated content). Developing a framework for the effective use of information needs to take account the full range of the factors identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / prevention & control
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Self Care*
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vascular Diseases / prevention & control*