A self-management program for individuals with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to lasting improvements in mood and function, according to a follow-up study published in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

A study initially was published in the November 2002 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology in which individuals ages 60 to 99 with advanced AMD participated in a 12-hour self-management program.

In this study, individuals were randomly assigned to one of the following three groups: the self-management group, a group that only listened to lectures on tape, or a group that was placed on a waiting list and received no intervention. About 24% of all patients had major or minor depression when the study began.

The results from the 2002 study showed that only participants who participated in the self-management program experienced significant improvement in their quality of life, mood and function immediately after completion of the program.

This study is a six-month follow up of patients who participated in the self-management program and those who did not. The researchers were able to follow up with 214 of the 252 participants from the original study. Patients who participated in the group still showed reduced emotional distress, improved function and increased self-efficacy at six months. These improvements were more pronounced in patients with depression than in those without depression.

On the other hand, twice the number of patients who did not participate in the program experienced depression compared to those who participated in the program.

The self-management program consisted of health professionals who led groups of patients who shared their experiences and frustrations. Patients learned about AMD and participated in problem-solving sessions. They learned how to live with their condition and become more confident in their physical abilities.

The six-month data indicate that the self-management program may prevent patients with AMD from becoming depressed. It may also help improve their function, self-efficacy and emotional states, and these benefits appear to have a lasting effect.

Vol. No: 142:2Issue: 2/15/05