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A conversation on managing chronic disease

Today in a Q&A on BeWell @Stanford, Kate Lorig, DrPH, director of Stanford’s Patient Education Research Center, discusses the self management of chronic health conditions. Well known for her research in this area, Lorig created the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program in the mid-90s, and the program has since been translated into 20 languages and is now being used in 25 countries.

Lorig has never not lived with a chronic condition. She was born with a rare hereditary disease and as a result has been diagnosed with other health conditions, including hypertension and thyroid cancer. In the BeWell @Stanford piece, she shares a personal story when discussing why it can be difficult for patients to comply with doctors' orders:

Doctor’s orders get in the way of life. A lot of what they prescribe is hard to integrate or feels punishing. A diagnosis can leave a person feeling devastated, frightened or immobilized. They can often only function in the way they have functioned their whole lives.

...I remember being told that I shouldn’t lift anything heavier than a teacup. I lived alone. This was not possible unless I was institutionalized.

Lorig also explains the helpfulness of using the self-management program and of seeking advice from other patients:

I like to use the example of a woman who had cancer and lost her hair. Two months later she could not put her wig away. It was nearing Christmas and her husband insisted that she move the wig off the dresser. Instead of insisting on a certain behavior, other participants suggested that she move the wig to a different position on the dresser, change the hairstyle or hang Christmas balls from it. There is not a health professional in the world who would do that! She benefited from the learned wisdom of other people succeeding with the same problem.

Previously: Program for managing chronic illness expands nationwide

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