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Chronic Disease Self-Management Program

  • Need: To help people with chronic conditions learn how to manage their health.
  • Intervention: A small-group 6-week workshop for individuals with chronic conditions to learn skills and strategies to manage their health.
  • Results: Participants have better health and quality of life, including reduction in pain, fatigue, and depression.
Evidence-Based (About evidence-level criteria)

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) is a 6-week workshop originally developed at Stanford University that has been studied and consistently found to be effective through 20+ years of research. The workshop is designed for people with one or more chronic conditions such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Lung disease
  • Stroke

The Administration on Aging's Empowering Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities through Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Programs initiative is one source of funding for this program. The 20 grantees funded in 2016 and 2017 are all charged with working toward statewide integrated, sustainable delivery systems, which includes rural areas. There are programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Local program can be located using the Evidence-Based Leadership Council’s website.

Examples of programs underway using this approach in rural areas:

Services offered

CDSMP is a 6-week workshop with one 2.5 hour interactive sessions per week. Each session is led by a pair of trained, peer facilitators, at least one of whom has a chronic condition. It covers the following:

  • Skill-building related to problem solving, dealing with difficult emotions, and communicating effectively with family, friends, and health care professionals
  • Health strategies related to healthy eating, safe exercise, managing pain and fatigue, using medications appropriately, getting a good night’s sleep, and more

CDSMP participants showed significant improvements in the following health measures:

  • Communication with their doctors
  • Self-reported health
  • Exercise
  • Fatigue and health distress
  • Disability and social role/activity limitations

Additionally, some studies show that participants spend fewer days in the hospital, which can result in healthcare cost savings. A national study found a $364 net savings rate per person as a result of CDSMP services.

For more information about program results:

Smith et al. (2017). Dissemination of Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) Programs in the United States: Intervention Delivery by Rurality. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14(6), 638

Findings from the National CDSMP Study, National Council on Aging

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program: Summary of National and State, National Council of Aging

Translational Research Findings, National Council on Aging

Published research on the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program

A Meta-Analysis of Health Status, Health Behaviors, and Health Care Utilization Outcomes of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Potential barriers to this kind of program implementation include:

  • Recruitment and retention of workshop participants and facilitators
  • Securing the necessary resources to support program licensing, training, and implementation
  • Engaging partners with the capacity to embed programs into routine operations or providing direct payment for program delivery

The National Council on Aging’s (NCOA) National Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Resource Center offers a variety of tools and resources to help organizations overcome these barriers. In addition to providing targeted technical assistance, the Best Practices Toolkit: Resources from the Field includes successful strategies across multiple domains compiled from more than 200 resources from partners across the country.

The Roadmap to Community-Integrated Health Care provides tools to develop linkages between state and community-based organizations and the healthcare sector.


The Self-Management Resource Center provides information on:

NCOA’s National Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Resource Center offers tools and resources to help implement a CDSMP program, including:

Two additional versions of the CDSMP have potential to reach people in rural areas who may not have access to a community-based workshop. The online version of the program – Better Choices, Better Health® – is available in specific areas where partnerships have been formed to add this venue. Another option is the mailed version of the program, Chronic Disease Self-Management Program: Tool Kit for Active Living, which packages the tools discussed in the CDSMP into a one-time mailing.

Contact Information
Binod Suwal, Senior Program Manager
Center for Healthy Aging, National Council on Aging
Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
Cardiovascular disease
Chronic disease management
Chronic respiratory conditions
Health conditions
Stress and stress disorders
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
States served
Date added
September 17, 2013
Date updated or reviewed
October 12, 2017

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.