A randomized controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a self-management program for adolescents with a chronic condition: a study protocol

Jaunna Gauci, Jacqueline Bloomfield, Sharon Lawn, Susan Towns, Annabelle Hobbs, Katharine Steinbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: Self-management support is increasingly viewed as an integral part of chronic condition management in adolescence. It is well recognized that markers of chronic illness control deteriorate during adolescence. Due to the increasing prevalence of long-term chronic health conditions in childhood and improved survival rates of previously life-limiting conditions in children and adolescents, significant numbers of adolescents are having to manage their chronic condition effectively as they transition to adult health care. Therapy adherence has been identified as a major challenge for young people living with a chronic condition such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, or asthma requiring long-term pharmacological therapy and/or lifestyle modifications. Most systematic reviews on self-management interventions address adult populations. Very few intervention studies are directed at adolescents with a chronic condition who are transitioning to adult health services. This protocol describes a prospective randomized controlled trial of a standardized self-management intervention program delivered to adolescents aged 15–18 years prior to their transfer to adult care. This study has been designed to provide evidence regarding self-management programs for adolescents and is the first study to use the Flinders Program with this important, under-researched age group. 

Methods: A randomized controlled trial is used to investigate the effectiveness of a modified adolescent-friendly version of an adult self-management program. This program is directed at improving self-management in an adolescent cohort 15–18 years of age with a chronic condition being treated in a specialist pediatric hospital. Participants will be randomized to either usual care or the modified Flinders Program plus usual care. Data collection will include measures of specific illness control, unscheduled hospital admissions, and questionnaires to record self-management competencies, quality of life, self-efficacy, and outcome measures specific to the chronic condition at baseline, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months after delivery. 

Discussion: This study will provide a better understanding of the elements required for effective self-management programs in adolescents with a chronic condition and address some important knowledge gaps in current literature. The study will be carried out in collaboration with the Discipline of Behavioural Health at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, in order to inform the development of an adolescent version of the successful and validated Flinders Program™. 

Trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12621000390886). Registered on April 8, 2021.

Original languageEnglish
Article number850
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2022


  • Adolescent
  • Chronic condition self-management
  • Chronic illness
  • Concordance
  • Flinders Program
  • Patient compliance
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Therapy adherence


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