Self-care includes actions and measures individuals take to improve their health and well-being, prevent and decrease the likelihood of disease, and to restore health after illness or injury. Different methods are used in order to identify the nature and extent of the impact of self-care on different stakeholders and to inform and guide the design of health policy.
This article, based on a literature review, examines different aspects of self-care and identifies methods used to value self-medication and self-care in general.
Self-care is part of a continuum of care. Daily lifestyle choices and self-medication represent two significant aspects of self-care. The valuation of self-care may concern the health or socioeconomic impact it presents, or follow an integrated approach, examining both the health and socio-economic results. Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is a methodology for the multidimensional and multidisciplinary assessment of interventions and products in healthcare which has not yet been applied to self-care.
The practice of self-care translates to the maintenance and improvement of health status, and has potential for significant cost reductions through the prevention of disease and the decrease of need for professional care. As the role of HTA in health policy decision-making expands, it could potentially be used for self-medication and the assessment of non-prescription products, complementing existing sources of information on self-care.
Valuing self-care is essential for increasing confidence and drawing attention and interest to its practice. It allows self-care’s full potential in contributing to individual and public health to be realized.
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