Background: This paper presents the evaluation of “Moving On”, a generic self-management program for people with a chronic illness developed by Arthritis NSW. The program aims to help participants identify their need for behavior change and acquire the knowledge and skills to implement changes that promote their health and quality of life.

Method: A prospective pragmatic randomised controlled trial involving two group programs in community settings: the intervention program (Moving On) and a control program (light physical activity). Participants were recruited by primary health care providers across the north-west region of metropolitan Sydney, Australia between June 2009 and October 2010. Patient outcomes were self-reported via pre- and post-program surveys completed at the time of enrolment and sixteen weeks after program commencement. Primary outcomes were change in self-efficacy (Self-efficacy for Managing Chronic Disease 6-Item Scale), self-management knowledge and behaviour and perceived health status (Self-Rated Health Scale and the Health Distress Scale).

Results: A total of 388 patient referrals were received, of whom 250 (64.4%) enrolled in the study. Three patients withdrew prior to allocation. 25 block randomisations were performed by a statistician external to the research team: 123 patients were allocated to the intervention program and 124 were allocated to the control program. 97 (78.9%) of the intervention participants commenced their program. The overall attrition rate of 40.5% included withdrawals from the study and both programs. 24.4% of participants withdrew from the intervention program but not the study and 22.6% withdrew from the control program but not the study. A total of 62 patients completed the intervention program and follow-up evaluation survey and 77 patients completed the control program and follow- up evaluation survey.

At 16 weeks follow-up there was no significant difference between intervention and control groups in self-efficacy; however, there was an increase in self-efficacy from baseline to follow-up for the intervention participants (t=−1.948, p=0.028). There were no significant differences in self-rated health or health distress scores between groups at follow-up, with both groups reporting a significant decrease in health distress scores. There was no significant difference between or within groups in self-management knowledge and stage of change of behaviours at follow-up. Intervention group attenders had significantly higher physical activity (t=−4.053, p=0.000) and nutrition scores (t=2.315, p= 0.01) at follow-up; however, these did not remain significant after adjustment for covariates.

At follow-up, significantly more participants in the control group (20.8%) indicated that they did not have a self-management plan compared to those in the intervention group (8.8%) (X2=4.671, p=0.031). There were no significant changes in other self-management knowledge areas and behaviours after adjusting for covariates at follow-up.

Conclusions: The study produced mixed findings. Differences between groups as allocated were diluted by the high proportion of patients not completing the program. Further monitoring and evaluation are needed of the impact and cost effectiveness of the program.

Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12609000298213


self-management, primary health care, self-efficacy, chronic illness

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