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Chapter III. Needs of the persons’/patients’ on self-care

III.Needs of the persons’/patients’ on self-care


A survey was conducted with patients’ and consumers’ representatives between March and June 2015. The aim of the survey was to provide information on the needs of people/patients’ on self-care, their understanding of self-care, main barriers and target groups to be prioritized when implementing self-care policies. The validity of the survey was provided by the type of respondents, representatives of the main patients’ and consumers’ European associations, the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and the European Consumers’ Association (BEUC). As the present report aims to offer an understanding of necessary actions at EU level, the survey consultation with most representative organizations was deemed as an appropriate measure to understand the main needs of people/patients on self-care. Overall, 29 representatives of patients and consumers responded to the survey.

As such, while the number of responses is low compared to large scale surveys, the representativeness of the responses provides a valid type of assessment.


The design of the survey questions was determined via consultation with the two above-named organizations taking special care that questions are clear, understandable, reader-friendly and in direct connection with the aim pursued.

The survey contained 26 questions centered around the understanding of self-care (including the definition of self-care and a daily life example where self-care was used), the needs for self-care (including which are main target groups and whether costs would be an issue) and specific skills needed to manage the 5 minor conditions: Athlete’s foot, cold, cough, heartburn and lower urinary tract infection. Please see


Summary of main findings:

  1. The following needs were identified: health information, access, support from healthcare professionals, patient groups and families.
  2. Barriers to self-care are: 1.low health literacy (73.68%), 2. costs of self-care (47.37%), 3. difficulty to navigate the healthcare system (47.37%), 4. lack of information (36.84%).
  3. 65% of respondents indicated that they are ready and willing to bear necessary costs that would be shifted.
  4. Vulnerable group should be the main target group when developing and implementing self-care policies.


Survey respondents indicated that the top priority in terms of self-care needs refers to health information (including promotion of healthy lifestyles). 16 out of 29 or 80% of respondents indicated this to be the top priority. Second and third priorities were access to appropriate health services and support from healthcare professionals (70% and 55%). The fourth suggestion was support from their own family (40%). Please see figure 5 below

Figure 5 Persons’/Patients’ needs

Needs1 Needs2

The analysis of these responses also correlates with the main barriers identified. The main barrier was suggested to be low health literacy by 73.68% of respondents. This is in perfect agreement with the first need of persons/patients to receive health information (including promotion of healthy lifestyles). Other barriers identified were significantly lower in terms of responses: 47% indicated that costs of self-care and difficulty to navigate the healthcare system as the main barriers.

Figure 6 Barriers to self-care

Barriers1 Barriers2

Regarding target groups when formulating policy on self-care, vulnerable groups were considered the main target as well as children and young adults and the older population. Please see figure 7 below.

Figure 7. Target groups when formulating policy on self-care


Regarding the readiness to bear the costs of self-care, over 60% of respondents indicated they were ready to bear the costs of self-care. This would mean that necessary treatment would not be reimbursed.  The results are not necessarily clear on this point and further investigations would be needed on this matter.

Figure 10. Readiness to bear the costs of self-care