Linking people with long-term health conditions to healthy community activities: development of Patient-Led Assessment for Network Support (PLANS)

Health Expect. 2013 Sep;16(3):e48-59. doi: 10.1111/hex.12088. Epub 2013 Jun 3.


Objective: To combine insights from service users with long-term conditions (LTCs) to assist the development of a community referral intervention designed to promote engagement and improve access to health-relevant resources.

Background: Social deprivation and reduced access to resources have been causally linked with social isolation and the ability to manage LTCs. Participation in meaningful activity has been associated with positive health benefits, and strategies to promote access to community activities have shown some potential to improve outcomes for people with LTCs. This suggests the need to develop an engagement and referral intervention in partnership with service users and community groups as part of mainstream self-care support.

Method: A series of focus groups and interviews with members of community groups in Greater Manchester designed as an iterative and collaborative approach to elicit the role of personal and community networks that support long-term condition management (LTCM) to develop a community referral tool.

Results: Participants reported a broad range of resources relevant to LTCM that often went beyond the usual concerns associated with self-care. This helped to inform a tool (PLANS) to tailor access to types of community-based resources which can support LTCM.

Conclusions: Understanding the everyday challenges of living with a LTC highlighted the importance of connecting and engaging with localized support for people. In response to this, we developed an intervention (PLANS) which tailors access to local resources based on personal preferences, needs and acceptability to encourage service users to engage with sustainable health choices.

Keywords: long-term conditions; patient and public involvement; self management; social networks; social prescribing; voluntary and community groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Community Participation / methods
  • England
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Development / methods
  • Self Care / methods
  • Social Isolation / psychology
  • Volunteers