Featured Articles                                                                                     Nov. 2008, Vol. I, No. 7
Addressing Multiple Negative Health Habits

College students cut down on drinking alcohol, using marijuana and drunken driving after receiving a new form of health consultation that addresses multiple risk behaviors and focuses on positive self-image, according to a University of Florida study. The study provided college students with brief interventions and one-on-one consultations to address a range of health behavior, from drinking and drug use to nutrition and getting enough sleep. The study also found that in addition to reducing potentially harmful habits, students increased certain behavior beneficial to their health, such as amount of sleep. Brief interventions that may affect health-related behavior stand in contrast to traditional, media-based public health campaigns in that they are person-to-person, may occur only once or twice and focus on positive benefits of healthy habits rather than the potential harm of negative ones. The brevity of the multiple behavior interventions also makes them cost-effective.

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Quotable: A Personalized Approach to Coaching

"Health coaching needs to consider the whole person. There are so many benefits to doing this. For example, a health coach can help someone establish a fitness program, but what will work for one person won’t work for another. [The approach] needs to be very personalized and take into consideration a person’s lifestyle."
                                        — Neal H. Mayerson, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and founder of Hummingbird Coaching Services.

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Weight the Results of Optum's Health Coaching Program

OptumHealth’s Online Health Coach weight management program participants were 44 percent more likely to lose weight compared with those who did not complete the program. The study also found that individuals completing the program lost 63 percent more weight than those in a control group that did not go through the program. The online health coach is an evidence-based online consumer engagement tool that is personalized for the user. Participants are involved in a highly interactive coaching experience that provides structured weekly to-do lists, tools, trackers, slide shows, meal plans and motivational messaging to address lifestyle behaviors that contribute to obesity and help them stay focused on achieving their goals. This tailored coaching process is based on the “stages of change” theory, and includes eight coaching modules available across wellness and chronic disease conditions.

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Serving Up Health Coaching the Health 2.0 Way

According to Roger Reed, executive vice president of market operations with Gordian Health Solutions, about two-thirds of the coaching population would prefer not to use the telephone as their preferred coaching modality. Consequently, a new generation of health coaches needs to be able to "serve it up to the individual any way they want it," using new methods and techniques, such as alternative medicine, coaching without a coach and other Health 2.0 developments. Reed also predicts how online personal heatlh coaching methods will affect traditional coaching methods.

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Health Coach Calls: Engaging Coaching Participants Via Web 2.0

Question: How has Mayo incorporated Web 2.0 technologies into its health coaching initiative?

Response: (Michael Casey) It’s important to stay in touch with new technologies and new generations — to stay relevant and make sure we keep them engaged. We’re blogging and experimenting with some social networking from our client portals. We’ve got a “share your story” section of our Web application where we’re trying to get people to say, “Here’s what I did — I took the HRA, I participated in this program, I lost 16 pounds.” We’re doing secure e-mail messaging to reach out to participants. We’ve tested messaging on cell phones. We don’t have any data yet, but we’re doing a lot of playing so we can make sure we stay relevant with new technologies and new applications. Also, we are testing some Mayo Clinic content on cell phones. We haven’t worked that into the employer world yet, but we are experimenting with these technologies.

(Michael Casey is the senior director of population health products and services for Mayo Clinic Health Management Resources.)

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Coaching Focuses on Health Behavior, Motivation and Readiness to Change

Health coaches are at the heart of today's healthcare continuum, reflecting an industry shift from simply targeting chronic conditions to addressing all conditions within the DM spectrum, with an emphasis on wellness and prevention. With data from real-life coaching initiatives, this white paper provides an overview of health coaching, the behavioral theories and training that support it and commentary from organizations that have implemented health coaching to reduce healthcare costs and improve population outcomes.

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