Self-management support interventions can improve health outcomes, but their impact is limited by the numbers of people able or willing to access them. Men’s attendance at existing self-management support services appears suboptimal despite their increased risk of developing many of the most serious long term conditions. The aim of this review was to determine whether current self-management support interventions are acceptable and accessible to men with long term conditions, and explore what may act as facilitators and barriers to access of interventions and support activities.
A systematic search for qualitative research was undertaken on CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Social Science Citation Index, in July 2013. Reference lists of relevant articles were also examined. Studies that used a qualitative design to explore men’s experiences of, or perceptions towards, self-management support for one or more long term condition were included. Studies which focused on experiences of living with a long term condition without consideration of self-management support were excluded. Thirty-eight studies met the inclusion criteria. A meta-ethnography approach was employed to synthesise the findings.
Four constructs associated with men’s experience of, and perceptions towards, self-management support were identified: 1) need for purpose; 2) trusted environments; 3) value of peers; and 4) becoming an expert. The synthesis showed that men may feel less comfortable participating in self-management support if it is viewed as incongruous with valued aspects of their identity, particularly when activities are perceived to challenge masculine ideals associated with independence, stoicism, and control. Men may find self-management support more attractive when it is perceived as action-oriented, having a clear purpose, and offering personally meaningful information and practical strategies that can be integrated into daily life.
Self-management support is most likely to be successful in engaging men when it is congruent with key aspects of their masculine identity. In order to overcome barriers to access and fully engage with interventions, some men may need self-management support interventions to be delivered in an environment that offers a sense of shared understanding, connectedness, and normality, and involves and/or is facilitated by men with a shared illness experience.
- self management
- long-term conditions