Home » Self-Care Promotion » Guideline on how to promote self-care: Cough » 2. Identify and select common and specific patients’/general population self-care behaviours

2. Identify and select common and specific patients’/general population self-care behaviours

Identify and select common and specific patients’/general population self-care behaviours that you want to promote (depending on the context problem you want to address)

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Identify and select common and specific patients’/general population self-care behaviours

  • Specify and describe the population/patients that you want to address with the intervention
  • Identify the general and specific patients’/general population self-care behaviours that the intervention aims to promote

2.1. Specify and describe the patients/general population that you want to address with the self-care strategy

Depending on the results of the evaluation of context and key issues and whether strategy is general or specific to a minor condition, one should define target patients/general population to whom interventions should be addressed to.
Regarding cough, probably there is no specific target population as all general population is affected by it.
However there are some specific groups that should have special attention as they might be more vulnerable to complications or misdiagnosis:

  • Smokers
  • People affected by seasonal allergies
  • Children younger than 3 months
  • Patient with chronic diseases (respiratory and cardiologic diseases)

2.2. Identify the general and specific patients’/general population self-care behaviours that the intervention aims to promote

A key step if you want to establish a strategy to promote self-care is to determine the self-care behaviours that should be promoted or those that should be discontinued or avoided. Promoting these behaviours will guide the development of the strategy and it will help identifying the mechanisms that can hinder or facilitate the promotion of self-care.

Depending on the results of analysis of context and issues that you want to address, you can identify different behaviours to promote.

The following table shows specific self-care behaviours that should be promoted (or avoided) for each one of the main phases of self-care, as well as some reflections regarding patients’/general population needs to achieve these goals.

All the behaviours included are considered relevant, however this classification might help to focus the self-care promotion strategy on a specific target.

Main stages of the cycle of self-care
Main self-care behaviours to promote
Prevention and health lifestyles
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking is one of most common and frequently reported underlying causes of chronic cough. Quitting smoking – or at least smoking less does not only improves patients’ cough, but also benefits patients’ in other health issues.
  • Preventing cold (see Promotion of self-care for cold guideline).
Treatment decision-making
  • Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics.
  • Considering whether treatment is necessary, for mild, short-term coughs.
  • Treating the underlying cause (if appropriate).
  • If an infant younger than 3 months old has cough, consulting the pediatrician or GP.
Treatment adherence As the treatment of cough is directed towards symptom relief, the adherence to such treatments might not be as problematic as for other conditions.
Self-monitoring & early detection of complications Monitoring and consulting a GP if the following symptoms or signs appear:

  • Coughing up blood.
  • Coughing for more than three to four weeks.
  • Chest or shoulder pain.
  • Breathlessness.
  • Weight loss: losing weight for no apparent reason over a period of six weeks or more.
  • Voice changes: becoming hoarse for longer than three weeks, and hoarseness persists after cough has settled.
  • New lumps or swellings: new swellings anywhere in the neck. [1]