Development of more self-management support programmes in primary health care has been one option used to enhance positive outcomes in chronic disease management. At present, research results provide no consensus on what would be the best way to develop support programmes into new settings. The aim of the present study was therefore to explore users' and health professionals' perceptions of what would be the vital elements in a self - management support programme applicable in primary health care, how to account for them, and why.Four qualitative, semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted in Central Norway. The informants possessed experience in development, provision, or participation in a self-management support programme. Data was analysed by the Systematic Text Condensation method.The results showed an overall positive expectation to the potential benefits of development of a self-management support programme in primary health care. Despite somewhat different arguments and perspectives, the users and the health professionals had a joint agreement on core characteristics; a self-management support programme in primary health care should therefore be generic, not disease specific, and delivered in a group- based format. A special focus should be on the everyday- life of the participants. The most challenging aspect was a present lack of competence and experience among health professionals to moderate self-management support programmes.The development and design of a relevant and applicable self-management support programme in primary health care should balance the interests of the users with the possibilities and constraints within each municipality. It would be vital to benefit from the closeness of the patients' every-day life situations. The user informants' perception of a self-management support programme as a supplement to regular medical treatment represented an expanded understanding of the self-management support concept. An exploring approach should be applied in the development of the health professionals' competence in practice. The effect of a self-management support programme based on the core characteristics found in this study needs to be evaluated.