Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman


  • Linda C. BaumannEmail author
  • Alyssa Ylinen
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_144-2



Self-care as described by Orem (1995) is “action of persons who have developed or developing capabilities to use appropriate, reliable and valid measures to regulate their own functioning and development in stable or changing environments” (p. 43). Self-care is both caring “for” oneself and “by” oneself. Self-care promotes well-being and is a perceived condition of personal existence characterized by experiences of contentment, pleasure, and happiness. It is associated with health and with sufficiency of resources. This definition is consistent with Diener’s (2009) concept of subjective well-being as an individual’s global judgment of values and standards that are significant to life satisfaction.

A paradigm that is emerging in health-care delivery for people with chronic conditions is that they are their own principal caregivers; health-care professionals act as consultants and advisors in supporting them in self-care and self-management of their condition. This paradigm of collaborative care and self-management education involves shared decision making between providers and patients. Self-management education includes providing patients with information, problem-solving skills, and behavioral strategies to enhance their lives.

Diabetes is an excellent example of a health condition that requires self-management skills to maintain optimal control through healthy eating, being active, taking medications, monitoring, problem solving, reducing risks, and healthy coping. http://www.diabeteseducator.org/DiabetesEducation/Patient_Resources/AADE7_PatientHandouts.html Self-management education can occur in group settings where peers can provide emotional support and practical information for problem solving. In addition to knowledge and skills, self-care behaviors are determined by attitudes and beliefs, social and environmental influences, and self-efficacy expectations.


Self-care is the thoughts and actions a person takes to achieve or maintain health and well-being.


References and Further Readings

  1. Bodenheimer, T., Lorig, K., Holman, H., & Grumbach, K. (2002). Patient self-management of chronic disease in primary care. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 2469–2475.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Diener, E. (2009). The science of well-being, (Social indicators book series, Vol. 37). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Orem, D. E. (1995). Nursing: Concepts and practice (6th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Allina Health SystemSt. PaulUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marc D. Gellman
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Research Center, Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA