Sonya Hodges, of the Douglas County Health Department, Ava, Missouri, has been involved in chronic disease self-management education programs for a few years now. Hodges has been a leader for CDSMP programs for five years and is also trained in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program. Hodges, Suzanne Cooney and Angie Fletcher, held the CDSMP course at the Missouri Ozarks Community Health center and seven participants ranging in age from their late 40s through their late 60s attended. Hodges stated that the “group bonded almost instantly the first night”. As the course continued over the six weeks, the participants maintained their support for one another.
However, the end of the six weeks turned out a little differently than most classes. During the final session, one participant identified that she did not want the program to end. So, Cooney, Hodges and the participant brought the topic up to the rest of the group after returning from break and it was a unanimous decision that the group would continue meeting monthly on their own after the end of the course. At the end of their sixth formal CDSMP session, the group scheduled the next date they would come back together and Hodges and Cooney were invited to attend.
This group of seven women who all met through a program they thought may be helpful to their health, are now meeting on a regular basis at each other’s homes. The participant who initially didn’t want the program to end told Hodges, “You all (Hodges, Cooney and Fletcher) started it, and I want to keep it going!”
The CDSMP is a group format course that is offered by trained leaders in six-week increments, meeting once per week for 2.5 hours. Participants are either persons with a long-term health condition (like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease) or a caregiver for an individual with chronic health problems. This program which was researched and designed by Stanford University and is now an evidence-based intervention, discusses techniques to deal with health problems associated with chronic conditions; appropriate exercise; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals; nutrition and setting goals.
Hodges believes in the CDSMP. While she personally does not experience any chronic health conditions, she can relate to her participants who find benefit in the techniques utilized in the course. Hodges specifically sees the group brainstorming technique to be beneficial for thinking of problems in a new way. To find out more information about CDSMP and other self-management classes being held in Southwest Missouri, contact the Southwest Regional Arthritis Center coordinator Heather Scott at 417-888-6787 or 1-800-835-5197. If you are interested in participating in self-management programs elsewhere in the state, you can find a class near you by visiting www.moarthritis.org/classes.html or calling toll-free at 1-888-702-8818. Hodges’ experiences, both new and old, have shown her that these programs “really can make a difference” in the lives of individuals with chronic health conditions.