Chronic Disease Self-Management Help Now Available Online

Photo credit: Daniele Pieroni

TRENTON – For a limited time only, New Jersey residents with on-going health conditions can enroll for free in a new on-line version of a popular and effective chronic disease self-management program traditionally conducted in community workshops.

Better Choices, Better Health™ helps people with arthritis, asthma, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis and many other chronic conditions manage their symptoms and take control of their health.  Interested people can register at  Spaces are limited and availability is on a first-come, first-served basis for the pilot program.

Developed and tested at the Stanford University Patient Education Center, the on-line workshop is offered exclusively through a license from National Council on Aging (NCOA).  Through April 2011, registration is limited to residents of New Jersey and six other pilot states – California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon.  The New Jersey pilot is supported by the State Department of Health and Senior Services.

“This on-line workshop is a powerful complement to New Jersey’s efforts to promote evidence-based health programs for people with on-going health conditions,” said State Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh, M.D.  “We are pleased to partner with NCOA and Stanford University and join this innovative effort to use the Internet to reach people who haven’t had access to this kind of chronic disease self-management program before.”

“Nearly half of all adults live with one or more chronic health conditions, and many struggle to find ways to manage their condition,” said Jay Greenberg, Senior Vice President of Social Enterprise at NCOA.  “Better Choices, Better Health meets people where they increasingly are – on-line.  The workshop represents a convenient way for people to develop the confidence and skills they need to cope with their illnesses.  It provides a way for them to help others, while they help themselves.”

Better Choices, Better Health helps participants reduce their pain and anxiety and manage a wide range of symptoms and conditions.  Led by trained instructors, participants together address topics such as stress reduction, dealing with difficult emotions, nutrition, exercise, planning for the future, building communication skills, and asking for help.

Better Choices, Better Health participants can log onto the free sessions from any computer with an Internet connection, including dial-up. Sessions are posted on a secure website each week for six weeks. There are no set times for workshop sessions; participants log on remotely at their convenience to complete exercises, read posted material, and interact with others.  The workshops can be particularly useful for those individuals without access to transportation or who prefer the anonymity of a virtual group.

In addition to the on-line version, through funding provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging, in-person community-based workshops are provided locally round the country.  In New Jersey, the program is known as Take Control of Your Health and is currently available in all 21 counties.  Individuals looking for community workshops can find a list of local contacts on-line at, or by calling 1-800-792-8820.

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