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Joining Up Self-Care: evaluation of a PCT-wide programme of support for self-care

  • Alison Blenkinsopp (a1), Jeremy Holmes (a2), Gopa Mitra (a3) and Mike Pringle (a4)
Background and Aim

Although there is existing activity within the NHS and local communities to support self-care there has been no previous attempt at integration across a Primary Care Trust (PCT). The Joining Up Self-Care (JUSC) study aimed to implement and evaluate such a programme.


Three self-care support modules for members of the public, together with a training course for primary care teams, were developed with, and implemented in, one PCT. The modules related to disease prevention (community-based coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention), care of people with long-term conditions (a disease-specific self-care skills training course for asthma) and the management of minor ailments aimed at mothers of children aged 3 months to 12 years (the ‘Pharmacy First’ service plus information booklets and campaigns). Postal questionnaires were completed by participants in CHD prevention (178), management of asthma (76) and minor ailments management (92), and by controls. A general population survey (n = 540) provided a comparison group for the CHD module and assessed general awareness of local self-care support. Four focus groups were held with mothers of young children. An audit of general practitioner (GP) records was conducted for consultations for minor ailments. Structured telephone interviews were conducted with 51 local health professionals and nine members of staff from the PCT.


Participants in the CHD module reported significantly more risk-reducing behaviours. Participants in a disease-specific Expert Patient Programme (EPP) for people with asthma rated the course positively, were subsequently more confident about discussing asthma with their doctor and had fewer concerns about their asthma medicines. Most users of the ‘Pharmacy First’ minor ailments scheme reported positive feedback and an intent to use the service again in the future. There were no significant differences in numbers of GP consultations for minor ailments between intervention and control groups. Health professionals were generally positive about encouraging self-care. Many felt they were already doing this but had insufficient time to implement it. A Local Enhanced Service (LES) was successful in engaging local general practices with self-care. Some organizational development relating to self-care occurred within the PCT but integration across different directorates was not achieved.


The JUSC programme was associated with changes in self-reported CHD risk reduction behaviours, in confidence to manage asthma and fewer concerns about medication, and with more positive attitudes towards consulting a pharmacist for minor ailments. Key principles for future PCT self-care strategies were identified. Further work is needed to embed support for self-care across the PCT as an organization.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Professor Alison Blenkinsopp, Medicines Management, School of Pharmacy, Keele University, Keele, Staffs ST5 5BG, UK. Email:
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
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