Chronic Illness Lifestyle Management

Chronic Illness Lifestyle Management aims to support, improve and maintain health within patients who have experienced a chronic illness. Thus, a fundamental aim of Chronic Illness Lifestyle Management is to focus on improving a patient’s quality of life (QoL) and the various factors that influence perceived life quality. It is evident that the onset, duration and after effect of an illness can lead to decreased Quality of Life (QoL), including depression, anxiety, stress, lack of socialisation and work related concerns. Health psychology interventions will use a variety of techniques to improve QoL, including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and theory-based interventions using psychological models.

Health Psychology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy are used into therapeutic intervention in order to improve and maintain quality of life. The aim of the therapy is to focus on the relationship between an individual’s thoughts and feelings. A variety of techniques are used in Cognitive BehaviorTherapy, including coping strategies, exposure and challenging negative thought patterns. Evidence suggests that CBT based treatment has improved conditions such as mild to moderate depression, anxiety and stress, and thus is key to improving factors which may impact a patients Quality of Life.

Motivational interviewing is another central tool used within psychological interventions in order to improve Quality of Life. This therapeutic tool is a form of collaborative conversation, which is used to strengthen an individual’s own personal motivation and commitment to change behavior. In particular, Motivational Interviewing will focus on a specific goal, for example quitting smoking, and explore the patient’s reason, desire and knowledge of change. As a result, patients with chronic illness can meet their goal and improve their general life satisfaction.

Furthermore, psychoeducational sessions can educate and support an individual during their change behaviour. Specifically, the psychologist can utilise the model as a base to monitor the patient’s change throughout the stages and consider what support - whether it be adherence, motivation or self-efficacy, the patient may need improve their behaviour, directly improving overall QoL.

It is known that support from a health psychologist is essential in chronic illness management. A health Psychologist can help patients communicate more effective with their partners, manage anger, confusion and gain information and understanding about their illness.

Low Quality of Life can lead to more long term conditions such as depression and anxiety, and evidence states that 30.9 per cent of patients report elevated symptoms of depression and 26.1 per cent report elevated anxiety levels. In order to improve these conditions, support from a health psychologist is needed to focus on a patients’ negative thoughts and emotions, and change them to more supportive and optimistic feelings using the above mentioned techniques.