Patient information has been viewed as a key component of self-management. However, little attention has been given to methods of dissemination or implementation of effective information strategies. Previous problems identified with the use and implementation of patient information point to the need to explore the way in which patients engage with and use information to support self-management for chronic conditions.Four published qualitative studies from a programme of research about self-management were analysed as a group; these included studies of the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); self-help in anxiety and depression (SHADE); menorrhagia, treatment, information, and preference (MENTIP) study; and self-help for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For the analysis, we used an adapted meta-ethnographic approach to the synthesis of qualitative data in order to develop an evidence base.The ontological status and experience of the condition in everyday life was the most dominant theme to emerge from this synthesis. This, coupled with access to and experience of traditional health services responses, shaped the engagement with and use of information to support self-management. Five key elements were found which were likely to influence this: the perception and awareness of alternative self-management possibilities; the prior extent and nature of engagement with information; the extent of and ability to self-manage; opportunities for use of the information and the stage of the illness career; and congruence and synergy with the professional role.People with chronic conditions need support from providers in both supply and engagement with information, in a way which gives legitimacy to the person's own self-management strategies and possible alternatives. Thus, a link could usefully be made between information offered, as well as patients' past experiences of self-management and engagement with services for their condition. The timeliness of the information should be considered, both in terms of the illness career and the type of condition (i.e., before depression gets too bad or time to reflect on existing knowledge about a condition and how it is to be managed) and in terms of the pre-existing relationship with services (i.e., options explored and tried). More considered use of information (how it is provided, by whom, and at what point it should be introduced) is key to facilitating patients' engagement with and therefore use of information to support self-management.