Partnering in the fi eld of chronic care service provision
Economic, social and political changes over the past century have meant many people – particularly those in developed nations – have enjoyed improved standards of living. Advances in medicine and technology have also meant people are now more likely to survive episodes of acute illness or injury than in the past (May et al ., 2005). These factors together have increased life expectancy rates and average population ages around the world. While longer lives and better standards of living are undoubtedly positive outcomes, these changes have also contributed signifi cantly to an increase in chronic conditions. As more people are surviving acute illnesses and injury, or just generally living naturally longer lives, the likelihood that they live long enough to develop a chronic condition has also risen (Dowrick, et al ., 2005). The World Health Organization (WHO, 2006) has called chronic conditions the ‘health challenge of the century’ with chronic disease currently responsible for 60% of the global health burden. Chronic conditions can be defi ned as ‘health problems that require ongoing management over a period of years or decades’ and which ‘typically affect the social, psychological and economic dimensions of a person’s life’ (WHO, 2005b, p. 13).