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Chronic Illness http://chi.sagepub.com/ Health work by older people with chronic illness: how much time does it take?
Laurann Yen, Ian S McRae, Tanisha Jowsey, James Gillespie, Paul Dugdale, Michelle Banfield,
Paul Matthews and Marjan Kljakovic
Chronic Illness 2013 9: 268 originally published online 5 March 2013
DOI: 10.1177/1742395313476720
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Article

Health work by older people with chronic illness: how much time does it take?

Chronic Illness
9(4) 268–282
! The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1742395313476720 chi.sagepub.com Laurann Yen,1 Ian S McRae,1 Tanisha Jowsey,1
James Gillespie,2 Paul Dugdale,3,4
Michelle Banfield,1,2 Paul Matthews1 and Marjan Kljakovic4

Abstract
Purpose: People living with chronic illness report spending a lot of time managing their health, attempting to balance the demands of their illness/es with other activities. This study was designed to measure the time older people with chronic illness spend on specific health-related activities.
Key methods: Data were collected in 2010 using a national survey of people aged 50 years and over selected from the membership of National Seniors Australia, the Diabetes Services Scheme and The Lung Foundation. Respondents provided recall data on time used for personal health care, non-clinical health activity; and health service interactions.
Main results: While most people with a chronic illness spend on average less than 30 minutes a day on health-related activities, the highest decile of respondents averaged at least 2 hours each day. People with COPD report the highest expenditure of time. The greatest amount of time was spent on daily personal health care activities.
Main conclusion: For a minority of people with chronic illness, time demands for health-related activities can be so great that other activities must be affected. Some time demands are amenable to system interventions that would result in a more patient-centered organisation of care.

Keywords
Time, self-management, chronic illness, complexity, work
Received 25 November 2012; accepted 9 January 2013
4

Academic Unit of General Practice, ANU Medical School,
Canberra Hospital, The Australian National University,
Australia

1

Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, The
Australian National University, Australia
2
Master of Health Policy, Sydney School of Public Health,
Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Australia
3
Centre for Health Stewardship, The Australian National
University, Australia

Corresponding author:
Laurann Yen, Australian Primary Health Care Research
Institute, Ian Potter House, Corner of Marcus Clarke and
Gordon Streets, Australian National University, ACTON
0200 ACT, Australia.
Email: Laurann.Yen@anu.edu.au

Downloaded from chi.sagepub.com at RMIT UNIVERSITY on December 28, 2013

Yen et al.

269

Introduction
It has become a truism in developed countries that managing chronic ill health and multi-morbidity are among the foremost challenges facing their health care systems.
Accordingly, a number of policy reviews have sought to provide systematic guidance on strategy and service delivery1–3 to respond to the impact of the challenges of
morbidity,…