Self-Help Manuals Cut Use of Unneeded Health Care Half of the Time

The Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) conducted a review of studies examining the effectiveness of providing patients with self-care manuals as a way to reduce unnecessary use of health care services.

Key Findings

Investigators reported the following findings based on 14 studies:

  • Roughly half the people who receive self-care manuals actually use them.
  • The combination of a manual and an educational program may increase knowledge and understanding of health care.
  • Some reports indicate that people respond differently to illness symptoms after receiving a self-care manual, while others do not.
  • People reported increased satisfaction and confidence after receiving a self-care manual.
  • Manual users may hesitate to seek health care when it is the right thing to do.
  • In roughly half the studies, there was a decline in unnecessary use of health care services after self-care manuals were distributed.


The research team distributed a printed report, Assessment of Self-Care Manuals, to health insurance programs, health care programs, researchers and others.