From the Editors of SelfCare (Free text)

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In this issue we feature a paper which reports a novel method of evaluation for healthcare interventions – Social Return on Investment (SROI). This methodology offers a consumer-based perspective to the cost benefit evaluation of an ‘expert patient’ self care programme. Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a framework to measure the value created by interventions outside of direct financial return or health benefit and seeks to evaluate the broader impact on the participation of individuals in society. The more intangible changes that result from a self care programme have importance for the quality of life of the individual and to society as a whole and the ambitious aim of SROI is to put a value on them. We hope the report of this pilot study will stimulate interest and debate on the potential of this methodology.

Also in this issue is part one of a broad ranging review by Professor Jeff Taylor of the factors which influence self care behaviour, and specifically self medication.  This first paper examines the way in which people evaluate their illnesses and what influences them to treat a condition as ‘minor’, and suitable for self care, or more serious and requiring professional advice. Future sections in this series will deal with factors influencing the use and abuse of self medication and the challenges of communicating information to consumers and monitoring how they behave. In assembling references to much of the recent literature on self medication in this series, we believe Professor Taylor’s reviews will provide a valuable resource to the readers of SelfCare.

Finally we urge our readers to consider contributing to the journal in various ways. We welcome your ideas on subjects you would like to see covered in SelfCare, e.g. commissioned reviews of therapeutic areas relevant to self care, or regulatory and health care policy issues you would like to see an authoritative view on. Much of the content inSelfCare to date has been on controversial subjects and we would especially value your views in the form of Letters to the Editor for publication. So please consider becoming an active member of the SelfCare on-line community and help to build the evidence-base for self care.