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Qual Life Res. 2013 Feb;22(1):85-92. doi: 10.1007/s11136-012-0131-9. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Understanding older patients' self-management abilities: functional loss, self-management, and well-being.

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Institute of Health Policy and Management (iBMG), Erasmus University, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



This study aimed to increase our understanding of self-management abilities and identify better self-managers among older individuals.


Our cross-sectional research was based on a pilot study of older people who had recently been admitted to a hospital. In the pilot study, all patients (>65 years of age) who were admitted to the Vlietland hospital between June and October 2010 were asked to participate, which led to the inclusion of 456 older patients at baseline. A total of 296 patients (65% response rate) were interviewed in their homes 3 months after admission. Measures included social, cognitive, and physical functioning, self-management abilities, and well-being. We used descriptive, correlations, and multiple regression analyses. In addition, we evaluated the mediation effect of self-management abilities on well-being.


Social, cognitive, and physical functioning significantly correlated with self-management abilities and well-being (all p ≤ 0.001). After controlling for background characteristics, multiple regression analysis indicated that social, cognitive, and physical functioning still related to self-management abilities (β = 0.17-0.25; all p ≤ 0.001). Older people with low levels of social, cognitive, and physical functioning were worse self-managers than were those with higher levels of functioning.


Self-management abilities mediate the relationship between social, cognitive, and physical functioning and well-being. Interventions to improve self-management abilities may help older people better deal with function losses as they age further.

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