It is imperative to acknowledge the healthcare system is experiencing new patterns of diseases, which have led to an increase in the number of people with long-term conditions. The predicament has made self-care a topic of considerable interest in the contemporary world. It plays an integral role in improving health outcomes among patients with minor and chronic diseases. This paper seeks to give a detailed description of self-care, its pros, cons, and solutions to problems associated with self-care.
Self-care existed before the development of formal health systems. It involves the ability of individuals and families to enhance health and manage ailments. It entails a range of activities that put people in control of their wellbeing. It is imperative to acknowledge that self-care does not require persons to manage their health without help from healthcare professionals. Research by Riegel, Moser, Buck, Dickson, Dunbar, Lee, & Webber (2017) has shown that self-care allows patients to make health decisions that enable them to stay fit. Such many involve seeking professional care if necessary, as well as taking actions to improve and cope with certain health conditions. People are also expected to determine whether self-care is effective and interfaces appropriately with professional care. If not, patients are expected to seek medical advice.
In the same way, self-care may involve other activities like disease prevention, health promotion, symptoms evaluation, and self-treatment. Healthy lifestyle behaviors like regular physical activity, consumption of healthy diets, and practicing good hygiene facilitate health promotion and minimize the risk of developing other infections. Self-treatment, on the other hand, involves the responsible and effective use of medications to manage minor ailments. Symptoms evaluation involves self-diagnosing of a syndrome depending on access to self-care learning tools and reliable information.
Notably, self-care practices may entail avoiding health hazards such as smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol have to prevent ailments in the future CRiegel, Moser, Buck, Dickson, Dunbar, Lee & Webber, 2017). That said, self-care is not only limited to physical wellbeing but also requires attention to a person’s emotional, social, and psychological health. In the past, healthcare professionals encouraged patients to engage in stress management and healthy lifestyle choices. Such would involve practicing good hygiene, being physically active, and avoiding too much alcohol. Over time, healthcare professionals encouraged patients to participate in self-care activities like social engagement, meditation, and therapy. In other words, self-care is a broad concept, which involves taking care of an individual’s psychological, social, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
Physical self-care involves an individual’s ability to take care of their body. It encompasses activities like drinking enough water, adequate sleep, regular exercise, and adherence to caloric intake guidelines. On the other hand, taking care of the mind is crucial for maintaining an optimal level of overall health. Psychological self-care practices may be different between individuals. For instance, persons with mental disorders should participate in psychotherapy and adhere to treatment as prescribed by a psychiatrist. As such, individuals need to engage in activities that will make them mentally healthy.
In like manner, emotional self-care enables people to maintain an optimal level of overall health. It is imperative to acknowledge that emotions may affect a person’s physical wellbeing and relationships negatively. For instance, individuals experiencing grief due to the loss of loved ones may develop a great deal of stress. The latter may result in depression, which may have adverse impacts on their health. It would be essential for such individuals to talk about their feelings with counselors or friends and take adequate time to grieve the loss. By so doing, people can take care of their emotional health.
In the same way, social self-care also enables people to maintain good relationships with friends, family, and the community. Research has shown that spiritual practice is also an appropriate self-care strategy (Bloomquist, Wood, Friedmeyer-Trainor & Kim, 2015). In the rear, effective self-care requires a combination of various community and individual aspects. The features may include personal responsibility, self-reliance, autonomy, self-efficacy, as well as community empowerment and involvement. Such elements enable people to implement effective self-care strategies that improve the health of the public.
Reducing Healthcare Expenditure
Notably, self-care has proven to have various benefits to individuals, their families, and the society. Initially, it results in significant cost savings. It is imperative to acknowledge that healthcare expenditures are on the rise. As such, policymakers should come up with ways of reducing costs. Research has shown that self-care minimizes medical spending around the world (Deek, Hamilton, Brown, Inglis, Digiacomo, Newton, Family Project Investigators, 2016). It can reduce public spending on doctor visits and treatment for diseases that can be treated through self-care options. Examples of search ailments may include digestive problems, pain, and allergies.
A study by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association has shown that for every one dollar spent on the over-the-counter medicines, America’s healthcare system saves approximately seven dollars. The therapy enables healthcare systems to allocate resources and money where it is most needed. Most patients spend on out-of-pocket expenses as they undergo treatment. Self-care, on the other hand, plays an integral role in minimizing such costs. Therefore, it is beyond reasonable doubts that investment in self-care can result in long-term savings for individuals, healthcare industries, and governments.
Concurrently, visiting a doctor for a minor ailment like allergic reactions can be time-consuming. Self-care, on the other hand, enables people to diagnose and treat themselves for such diseases. They can acquire help from pharmacists as they buy over the counter medicines (Bell, Dziekan, Pollack & Mahachai, 2016). Hence, one can tell that self-care also gives people availability to adequate healthcare. What is more is that it saves peoples’ time by enabling them to manage various ailments on their own. In other words, self-care allows people to address their health needs without the effort and difficulties of seeing a physician. Individuals can manage both chronic and self-limiting conditions like back pain, depression, diabetes, and hypertension. In the rear, self-care reduces the workload of physicians and other healthcare professionals. Such enables them to attend to patients with critical conditions.
Quality of Life
Self-care leads to self-management of minor conditions like fever, pain, and other aches, thus improving patients’ quality of life. For example, self-care minimizes the adverse effects of stress and improves sleep. It is beyond reasonable doubts that such activities improve people’s wellbeing. The individuals feel confident in their abilities to enhance their quality of life by managing minor illnesses.
Self-care enables individuals to identify when they need to seek medication. Such prevents late detection of ailments, thus increasing chances for optimal health outcomes. In like manner, self-care allows people with chronic conditions to minimize the progression of their disease symptoms (Riegel, Moser, Buck, Dickson, Dunbar, Lee & Webber, 2017). The individuals acquire skills to recognize the deterioration of their ailments. As a result, they seek early medical intervention in the effort to reduce potential complications.
Self-care also enables people to maintain good physical wellbeing by practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors like physical activity. It also allows them to manage their emotional lives and consequently manage stress. By so doing, their quality of life is enhanced. Other benefits of self-care may include increased disease prevention, improved ability for patients to cope with their chronic conditions, and few hospital admissions.
It is imperative to acknowledge that self-care gives people significant control of their health. It allows them to engage in healthy behaviors that will improve their overall health. Compelling evidence has shown that self-care inspires people to transform their daily health routine. As such, they stop depending too much on the healthcare system. As a result, they become more knowledgeable and engaged in their wellbeing.
Moreover, transformation to healthy behaviors leads to self-efficacy, a better understanding of specific maladies, and positive feelings such as confidence or high self-esteem (Schwarzer, Antoniuk & Gholami, 2015). It is common for people to develop anxiety when developing symptoms of a particular disease. In such a case, it can be challenging to decide on whether to seek medical attention. On the other hand, self-care increases knowledge, confidence, and self-esteem that enable people to self-diagnose and consequently manage health symptoms.
Additionally, self-care allows people to participate in all aspects of their health. They gain control of their treatment in case of illnesses. The practice encourages self-management, which increases adherence to prescribed medications, thus increasing chances for recovery. Healthcare professionals work together with patients to help them develop self-care plans that allow them to take care of their wellbeing.
Adverse Disease Outcomes
Self-care has some drawbacks, which threaten patients’ health and wellbeing. It is imperative to acknowledge that self-care depends on the patients’ abilities to make correct decisions to respond to the signs and symptoms they are experiencing. In line with this statement, self-care seems to be inappropriate in cases where patients do not have adequate knowledge to determine their health problems. The therapy requires patients to comprehend the cause of their conditions, how to fix them, and how whether to seek medical attention or not.
Lack of required knowledge can result in unwanted self-care behaviors that can worsen a disease, thus leading to adverse health outcomes (Tewahido & Berhane, 2017). Self-care does not seek to eliminate the need for healthcare professionals. However, the therapy can dissuade people from seeking medical attention, thus increasing the chances of adverse disease outcomes. Therefore, it is essential for individuals implementing self-care to seek advice from professionals, especially when they cannot understand their health conditions.
Self-care increases chances for diagnostic errors among patients. The individuals may miss an essential detail during self-diagnosis. Such can result in misdiagnosis, which translates to devastating knock effects. For example, patients with mood swings may think that they have bipolar disorders or other depressive illnesses, whereas they may be having a different disease. Patients may concentrate on one symptom, whereas the sign may have appeared as a result of other underlying reasons. Similarly, the symptoms may have occurred due to an undetected health condition. Misdiagnosis and missed diagnoses can make patients employ management interventions for incorrect diseases. Such may lead to adverse negative outcomes.
Some individuals use the internet for self-diagnosis. From a liberal point of view, health blogs can be posted by people without any medical training. As such, cyberchondriacs are likely to acquire unreliable information from the internet (Tan & Goonawardene, 2017). On the other hand, valid medical websites can provide reliable info, but patients can end up misinterpreting it (Tan & Goonawardene, 2017). The individuals can end up over-diagnosing themselves and consequently develop hysteria because they begin to worry about possible outcomes. Stress and panic tend to aggravate patients’ problems. Therefore, self-diagnosis can be harmful if inappropriate decisions are made during the process.
Self-care can also result in delayed diagnosis, which can accelerate symptoms of specific conditions. In line with this statement, self-diagnosis can undermine a physician’s roles. It can make believe that they are suffering from a particular disease even when the diagnosis is wrong. On the other hand, doctors have medical training and thus have the experience as well as the ability to carry out a proper diagnosis. When they diagnose patients of a different disease, the patients can doubt the results because their self-diagnosis said otherwise. Lack of trust can ruin the doctor-patient relationship, thus resulting in poor health outcomes (Tan & Goonawardene, 2017). Therefore, self-care increases the risk of diagnostic errors.
It is imperative to acknowledge that self-care entails the management of self-diagnosed symptoms or diseases. Self-treatment increases the chances of taking wrong medications, using ineffective treatment methods, incorrect dosage, severe drug reactions, and delays in seeking medical advice (Mehmood, Rehman, Zaman, Iqbal & Hassan, 2016). Such practices may jeopardize patients’ health. For example, a patient may decide to use medications that were prescribed to another person because they have the same set of symptoms. They fail to understand that different health conditions may have some similar signs.
In like manner, implementation of self-care can contribute to incorrect choice of treatment interventions. For example, obese patients may understand that losing weight is an essential way of managing the condition. Instead of eating healthy foods and undertaking progressive exercises, they may decide to starve themselves in the effort to lose weight. Starving is a wrong treatment intervention and is not likely to give the patients the results they desire. In other words, it does not result in weight loss. Instead, it brings about health complications like binging and eating disorders such as Bulimia. Similarly, patients may decide to engage in vigorous exercises as a treatment interventions, not realizing that the activities can cause heart attacks in people with certain conditions. Therefore, it is beyond reasonable doubts that self-care increases the risk of wrong treatment.
Possible Issue Resolutions
Notably, some medical conditions are critical and challenging for patients to address on their own. For example, psychiatric disorders require the integration of active participation in psychiatric rehabilitation, medication, and psychotherapy for patients to achieve optimum health outcomes. In the same way, people with eating disorders may require psychotherapy and other medical interventions in the effort to combat the illnesses. In such cases, self-care alone would not be sufficient. Individuals with such conditions can benefit more from professional treatment, and thus, self-care should occur as a secondary therapy. In line with this statement, patients should be able to differentiate, which medical conditions require professional medical attention in the effort to make self-care more effective (Riegel, Moser, Buck, Dickson, Dunbar, Lee & Webber, 2017). It is common to find that people are not sure about the cause of their symptoms. In such a case, consulting experts such as nurses, physicians, psychiatrists, or licensed therapist would help in understanding health conditions and effective treatments. In the same way, patients need to seek professional help if their self-care efforts are not working out. Such would help in reducing potential complications.
As previously discussed, self-care involves self-diagnosis to identify common health conditions like colds, headaches, and coughs, among others. Patients should determine whether the symptoms are critical or not. That said, the individuals should have elementary knowledge regarding such signs. Community-health nurses, governments, and healthcare organizations need to impart the public with information that will enable them to gain more confidence in their daily healthcare routines. The healthcare system should also provide people with high-quality information for safe self-care activities (Tewahido, & Berhane, 2017). They should disseminate it to vulnerable groups like the poor and disabled. For example, community nurses and local pharmacists should provide patients with advice and information to support self-care.
Healthcare providers are at the forefront of healthcare and thus play an integral role in supporting self-care behaviors among patients. As such, they should build their client’s confidence and make them believe that they are capable of managing their health while at home. They should help patients develop an effective self-care plan. They should provide them with resources that encourage them to assume control of their health and wellbeing. Policymakers should come up with local and national incentive schemes that will enable healthcare professionals to support self-care among patients.
It is imperative to acknowledge that there are several barriers to effective self-care. They may include health illiteracy, leadership gaps, and social determinants, among others. As such, effective self-care interventions would require people to overcome such obstructions. It would require participation and collaboration of various stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare professionals, governments, NGOs, and the community. They should create initiatives to enhance health literacy and understanding of self-care. The efforts would give people the knowledge to make conversant decisions and consequently take appropriate action for their health and wellbeing. Research has shown that health literacy contributes to healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors (Poureslami, Nimmon, Rootman & Fitzgerald, 2016). In like manner, governments should implement high health education standards to support self-care literacy. Such initiatives will reduce the risks associated with self-care. In the rear, collaboration between governments, healthcare industries, as well as public and private partnerships, will improve access to self-care tools and resources.
To sum up, self-care is vital for maintaining an optimal level of overall health. It puts people in control of their wellbeing by allowing them to manage illnesses on their own. Self-care has proven to have several benefits to individuals, families, and the society. Initially, it minimizes healthcare expenditures. It reduces the money spent on doctor visits and treatment of minor ailments like coughs. In like manner, self-care improves health outcomes for patients with terminal and self-limiting illnesses. On the other hand, it can result in adverse health outcomes if patients have inadequate knowledge and ability to respond to diseases. It also increases risks for wrong treatment and diagnostic errors. Misdiagnosis can result in an incorrect choice of medication, which can jeopardize patients’ health. It is essential for healthcare professionals, government, communities, and healthcare organizations to work together in the effort to minimize barriers to effective self-care.
Bell, J., Dziekan, G., Pollack, C., & Mahachai, V. (2016). Self-care in the twenty-first century: a vital role for the pharmacist. Advances in therapy, 33(10), 1691-1703.
Bloomquist, K. R., Wood, L., Friedmeyer-Trainor, K., & Kim, H. W. (2015). Self-care and professional quality of life: Predictive factors among MSW practitioners. Advances in Social Work, 16(2), 292-311.
Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Statistics on OTC Use. Retrieved 22 October 2019, from https://www.chpa.org/MarketStats.aspx
Deek, H., Hamilton, S., Brown, N., Inglis, S. C., Digiacomo, M., Newton, P. J., Family Project Investigators. (2016). Family-centered approaches to healthcare interventions in chronic diseases in adults: a quantitative systematic review. Journal of advanced nursing, 72(5), 968-979.
Mehmood, A., Rehman, A. U., Zaman, M., Iqbal, J., & Hassan, S. S. U. (2016). Self-medication; An Emerging Trend. Journal of Pharmaceutical Research International, 1-8.
Poureslami, I., Nimmon, L., Rootman, I., & Fitzgerald, M. J. (2016). Health literacy and chronic disease management: drawing from expert knowledge to set an agenda. Health Promotion International, 32(4), 743-754.
Riegel, B., Moser, D. K., Buck, H. G., Dickson, V. V., Dunbar, S. B., Lee, C. S., … & Webber, D. E. (2017). Self‐care for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and stroke: A scientific statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(9), e006997.