Background: Disease management programs based on the chronic care model have achieved successful and long-term improvement in the quality of chronic care delivery and patients' health behaviors and physical quality of life. However, such programs have not been able to maintain or improve broader self-management abilities or social well-being, which decline over time in chronically ill patients. Disease management efforts, population health management initiatives and innovative primary care solutions are still mainly focused on clinical and functional outcomes and health behaviors (e.g., smoking cessation, exercise, and diet) failing to address individuals' overall quality of life and well-being. Individuals' ability to achieve well-being can be assessed with great specificity through the application of social production function (SPF) theory. This theory asserts that people produce their own well-being by trying to optimize the achievement of instrumental goals (stimulation, comfort, status, behavioral confirmation, affection) that provide the means to achieve the larger, universal goals of physical and social well-being. Discussion: A shift in focus from the management of physical function, disease limitations, and lifestyle behaviors alone to an approach that fosters self-management abilities such as self-efficacy and resource investment as well as overall quality of life, is urgently needed. Disease management interventions should be aimed at adequately addressing all difficulties chronically ill patients face in life, such as the effects of pain and fatigue on the ability to maintain a job and social life and to participate in activities promoting physical and social well-being. Patients' ability to maintain engagement in stimulating work and social activities with the people who are important to them may be even more important than aspects of disease self-management such as blood pressure or glycemic control. Interventions should aim to make chronically ill patients capable of managing their own well-being and adequately addressing their needs in a broader sense. Summary: So, is disease management the answer to our problems in the time of aging populations and increased prevalence of unhealthy lifestyles, chronic illnesses, and comorbidity? No! Effective (disease) prevention, disease management, patient-centered care, and high-quality chronic care and/or population health management calls for management of overall well-being.

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BMC Health Services Research
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Cramm, J., & Nieboer, A. (2016). Is "disease management" the answer to our problems? No! Population health management and (disease) prevention require "management of overall well-being". BMC Health Services Research (Vol. 16). doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1765-z