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Telehealth technologies help older adults with chronic conditions develop self-management skills and improve their health

Guo Y, Albright D  The effectiveness of telehealth on self-management for older adults with a chronic condition: A comprehensive narrative review of the literature  J Telemed Telecare. 2017 Jan.

Review question

  • How effective are telehealth technologies in promoting self-management behaviours among adults with chronic conditions?


  • It is expected that by 2020, chronic conditions will make up the majority of global disease and will account for over 75% of deaths worldwide. Additionally, as populations age around the world, older adults will increasingly be the ones dealing with chronic disease.
  • Chronic conditions negatively affect mental and physical health, quality of life and economic status among older adults. In order to reduce the burden of these conditions on carers and the healthcare system, and for older adults to retain autonomy over their lives while remaining healthy for longer, it is self-management strategies are encouraged.
  • Telehealth techniques, defined as the use of audio, video, and website technologies, have the potential to help older adults develop effective self-management strategies for their chronic conditions. This review was conducted to examine the evidence concerning the effectiveness of telehealth technologies in promoting self-management strategies among older adults with chronic conditions.

How the review was done

  • A detailed search of four electronic databases for studies published up to March 2017 was conducted. Studies that focused on telehealth technologies with a focus on self-management techniques delivered to older adults with chronic conditions were included in the review.
  • A total of 325 studies were identified in searches, and 31 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
  • The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.

What the researchers found

  • The researchers identified a range of telehealth techniques that were used to support people with a variety of chronic diseases in the studies. It was found that these techniques were effective at improving self-care skills, improving self-monitoring behaviours, and improving clinical outcomes in the short term and long term.
  • The evidence was generally of a high quality and considered reliable by the study authors.
  • While some studies reported contradictory results, the overwhelming majority of the evidence points to the effectiveness of telehealth technologies.


  • Telehealth technologies were found to be effective overall for promoting self-management techniques and behaviours among older adults with chronic conditions and diseases. These techniques lead to improved self-care skills, improved self-monitoring behaviours and improved clinical outcomes. Further research may be required to consolidate these findings and clarify contradicting results.

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

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