Self-monitoring of health data by patients with a chronic disease: does disease controllability matter?

Martine W. J. Huygens*, Ilse C. S. Swinkels, Judith D. de Jong, Monique J. W. M. Heijmans, Roland D. Friele, Onno C. P. van Schayck, Luc P. de Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: There is a growing emphasis on self-monitoring applications that allow patients to measure their own physical health parameters. A prerequisite for achieving positive effects is patients' willingness to self-monitor. The controllability of disease types, patients' perceived self-efficacy and health problems could play an essential role in this. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between patients' willingness to self-monitor and a range of disease and patient specific variables including controllability of disease type, patients' perceived self-efficacy and health problems.

Methods: Data regarding 627 participants with 17 chronic somatic disease types from a Dutch panel of people with chronic diseases have been used for this cross-sectional study. Perceived self-efficacy was assessed using the general self-efficacy scale, perceived health problems using the Physical Health Composite Score (PCS). Participants indicated their willingness to self-monitor. An expert panel assessed for 17 chronic disease types the extent to which patients can independently keep their disease in control. Logistic regression analyses were conducted.

Results: Patients' willingness to self-monitor differs greatly among disease types: patients with diabetes (71.0%), asthma (59.6%) and hypertension (59.1%) were most willing to self-monitor. In contrast, patients with rheumatism (40.0%), migraine (41.2%) and other neurological disorders (42.9%) were less willing to self-monitor. It seems that there might be a relationship between disease controllability scores and patients' willingness to self-monitor. No evidence is found of a relationship between general self-efficacy and PCS scores, and patients' willingness to self-monitor.

Conclusions: This study provides the first evidence that patients' willingness to self-monitor might be associated with disease controllability. Further research should investigate this association more deeply and should focus on how disease controllability influences willingness to self-monitor. In addition, since willingness to self-monitor differed greatly among patient groups, it should be taken into account that not all patient groups are willing to self-monitor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Family Practice
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2017


  • Self-monitoring
  • Chronic disease
  • Patients
  • Disease controllability
  • Self-management

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