Background Inspired by American examples, several European countries are now developing disease management programmes (DMPs) to improve the quality of care for patients with chronic diseases. Recently, questions have been raised whether the disease management approach is appropriate to respond to patient-defined needs.
Objective In this article we consider the responsiveness of current European DMPs to patients’ needs defined in terms of multimorbidity, functional and participation problems, and self-management.
Method Information about existing DMPs was derived from a survey among country-experts. In addition, we made use of international scientific literature.
Results Most European DMPs do not have a solid answer yet to the problem of multimorbidity. Methods of linking DMPs, building extra modules to deal with the most prevalent comorbidities and integration of case management principles are introduced. Rehabilitation, psychosocial and reintegration support are not included in all DMPs, and the involvement of the social environment of the patient is uncommon. Interventions tailored to the needs of specific social or cultural patient groups are mostly not available. Few DMPs provide access to individualized patient information to strengthen self-management, including active engagement in decision making.
Conclusion To further improve the responsiveness of DMPs to patients’ needs, we suggest to monitor ‘patient relevant outcomes’ that might be based on the ICF-model. To address the needs of patients with multimorbidity, we propose a generic comprehensive model, embedded in primary care. A goal-oriented approach provides the opportunity to prioritize goals that really matter to patients.