Self-Care May Reduce Use of Health Services and Increase Patient Satisfaction - Says Evaluation of Two Healthwise Communities

From 1995 to 1998, staff from Healthwise, a Boise, Idaho, private non-profit educational organization, conducted a multi-faceted public education campaign focusing on patient self-care intervention in a four-county Idaho area.

Investigators from the Oregon Health Services University evaluated the project. They also conducted a separate evaluation of a similar project aimed at Medicaid patients in Portland, Ore.

Key Results

  • Healthwise investigators achieved the following:

    • Established a public awareness campaign on patient self-care that included ads and newspaper columns.
    • Revised and distributed more than 130,000 copies of the Healthwise Handbook, a consumer guide to self-care.
    • Provided more than 500 workshops for community groups, project sponsors, and health care professionals.
    • Began operating a toll-free nurse-staffed telephone information line.
    • Developed and maintained a Web site for community access to consumer health information.
    • Established "Healthwise Information Stations" in public libraries, clinics and work sites.
    • Developed replication materials for other communities interested in implementing a similar project.

Key Findings

  • In the evaluation of the Idaho project:

    • Investigators found some evidence that the intervention reduced utilization of unneeded health services, but did not result in a significant decrease in primary care visits during the study period.
    • Project participants showed an increased use of self-care manuals and were more likely than non-participants to say that using self-care manuals reduced worry, helped them self-treat symptoms, and saved them visits to doctors.

    In the evaluation of the similar project aimed at Medicaid patients in Portland:

    • Investigators found a significant increase in use of the self-care manual but no significant decrease in primary care visits during the study period.