Individuals surviving a cancer diagnosis and primary treatments commonly experience an altered health status with ongoing sequelae of their disease, and changes in lifestyle and co-morbid conditions. Lifestyle interventions, particularly diet and exercise, are likely to be of benefit in reducing these effects. However, behaviour change can be difficult for many cancer survivors. Increasing interest in helping people to help themselves has led to the identification and application of self-management strategies.
Self-management focuses on an individual’s ability to manage daily the symptoms and consequences of long-term and chronic conditions. Self-management is built on the conceptualisation of chronic illness as part of an individuals identity, mediated through psychological ownership of their illness, which is associated with the idea of control. Self-care contributes to the ability to self-manage. Both self-care and self-management are associated with self-efficacy, meaning the confidence an individual has to achieve specific goals. Cancer survivors with high levels of self-efficacy are more likely to engage in self-care behaviours, experience reduced physical and psychological symptoms, and exhibit greater effort and persistence in coping.
Consequently, there has been an explosion in self-management interventions in the past decade, particularly in view of the increasing use of online delivery platforms. Our aim here is to: i) summarise the existing frameworks underpinning self-management interventions; ii) provide examples of effective self-management interventions; iii) provide recommendations for the future direction of intervention design, development, evaluation, and implementation in cancer survivorship.