Introducing the Self Care Library

Dec 2012
David Peters, Karen Pilkington

As long as I have been in medical practice I have been interested in what people can do for themselves to get well and stay that way; and what it is that helps patients cope with long-term conditions. I’m sure this interest was sharpened by having a longish struggle to get over Hepatitis A in the early 1970s. For those who can afford them, complementary therapies are often self-chosen pieces in their self-care jigsaw.As the NHS shrinks, I have no doubt that self-care will be a fast-growing concern.
David Peters
Working as a specialist clinical pharmacist allowed me to clearly see the advances being made in acute health care. Moving into researching complementary therapies and, more recently, self-care has made me aware of how many people are living with chronic health problems to which they have not yet found a solution.While self-care decision- making is often made on the basis of other people’s experiences, giving people access to the research that has been done may help inform the choices they make.
Karen Pilkington


The Self Care Library is an online patient resource providing free evidence-based information about self-care. It is the result of work funded by the College of Medicine and the Department of Health. In this introductory extract we focus on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).The library can be found at Currently, information is available on the following chronic health problems: back pain, depression, chronic fatigue, tension-type headache, IBS, menopause, migraines, osteoarthritis, premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea, insomnia, fibromyalgia and stress and anxiety.

First Paragraph

We worked together on the Self Care Library (SLC) project for two years, alongside Half-a-second Studios who designed and put together the superb website. The SLC has initially focused on self-care treatment options for the sorts of long-term conditions that do not always respond easily to medical treatment. For problems such as these (and IBS is typically one of them) people very often want to know what they can do for themselves. GPs too may have similar questions about how best to advise such patients. The SCL provides a platform for doctors and patients to discuss the options based on the available scientific evidence for what is most likely to help.It is uniquely wide-ranging, up to date, and user-friendly.