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How Much Time Do Adults Spend on Health-related Self-care? Results from the American Time Use Survey

Daniel E. Jonas, Yoko Ibuka, and Louise B. Russell

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine
July-August 2011
The authors report that time spent on health-related self-care is disproportionately distributed across the population, with a larger amount of time reported by those in poor health (3.6 hours/week) and the nonworking disabled (3.2 hours/week). To provide patient-centered care and to promote optimal decisions about health-related time management when making recommendations for additional self-care tasks, clinicians need to talk to patients about how much time they are already spending on self-care.

In an editorial in the same issue Marjorie A. Bowman and Anne Victoria Neale wrote: "Self-care is key to the treatment of many common diseases. With data from the American Time Use Survey, Jonas et al5 found that disabled patients or those in poor health spend hours each week on self-care. Physicians likely underestimate this and frequently presume that patients will be able to perform the various home health care tasks needed to handle the illness. Consider how much time it takes the average patient with significant diabetes to do foot care, self-test blood sugar, or take insulin. Then, add in time for planning and preparing special foods, which was excluded in the Jonas et al5 study. Recognition by health care providers of the time intensity of self-care could go a long way toward helping patients feel understood and potentially prioritize which self-care items to undertake."

The entire article can be read here.

Daniel E. Jonas, Yoko Ibuka, and Louise B. Russell. 2011. "How Much Time Do Adults Spend on Health-related Self-care? Results from the American Time Use Survey," The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 24(4): 380-390.



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