Featured Articles                                                   April 2010, Vol. II, No. 12
Willpower, Stress Key Obstacles in Behavior Change

While long-term behavior change is necessary to overcome barriers to healthy living, an American Psychological Association (APA) poll has found that fewer than one in five adults (16 percent) reported being very successful at making health-related improvements such as losing weight (20 percent), starting a regular exercise program (15 percent), eating a healthier diet (10 percent) and reducing stress (7 percent) so far this year. However, about nine in 10 adults (88 percent) who resolved to make a health-related change say they have been at least somewhat successful at achieving it since January.

Despite these efforts, about three-quarters (78 percent) of those who made a health-related resolution say significant obstacles block them from making progress, such as willpower (33 percent), making changes alone (24 percent) and experiencing too much stress (20 percent). Psychologists with APA report that, with the right support, individuals can learn how to make lasting lifestyle and behavior changes, regardless of the importance they place on willpower or the influence of stress. "Is it will or is it skill?" asks health psychologist and past president of APA's Division of Health Psychology Dr. Karina Davidson. "The reality is that, with the right guidance, people can build and strengthen the skills they need to make even the toughest lifestyle changes," she said.

APA recommends talking about lifestyle and behavior goals with friends, family or a professional, such as a psychologist, who can help navigate feelings and gain skills to successfully change behavior. With help, individuals can develop willpower and stay on track with their health-centered goals.

Get more information here.

Quotable: How to Gain ROI Success in Health Coaching

"The one way to assure that you’re going to get better ROI in coaching is to make sure you get a lot of people into coaching and most importantly, a lot of the right kind of people into coaching."
                                        — Dr. Paul Terry, Staywell Health Management.

Learn more about coaching and ROI.

Paying for Behavior Change in Workplace Health Improvement Programs

To encourage participation in health improvement programs, more than half (58 percent) of companies are offering incentives to employees and a quarter (24 percent) are extending these incentives to spouses and/or family members, according to a new survey by Hewitt Associates.

Despite a minority of companies having a formal overall strategy in place, Hewitt's survey suggests there is a growing recognition among employers that programs and tactics, tailored to an employee's specific needs, will provide them with the best foundation for future change. These programs and tactics are often built on existing targeted initiatives. For example, disease management (DM) and health improvement programs continue to remain a priority for employers. More than half (53 percent) of companies currently have a DM/health improvement strategy in place. Of those that don't, 11 percent plan to implement one this year and another 75 percent plan to implement one in the next three to five years.

The number of companies offering cash incentives for completing a health risk questionnaire almost doubled from last year — from 35 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2010. In addition, 37 percent of companies provided cash incentives for participating in health improvement and wellness programs, up from 29 percent in 2009. Penalties, such as higher benefit premiums or deductibles, are also emerging as a popular tactic. Almost one in five (18 percent) employers already use penalties and another 29 percent say they will use them in the next three to five years. Smoking and failure to participate in DM programs are the most common behaviors where penalties are deployed.

Hewitt's survey also shows that the majority of companies continue to measure the success of their health and productivity programs by how well they manage medical costs (58 percent) or by how well their programs are being utilized (57 percent). Just 19 percent measure employee behavior change and 15 percent measure behavioral modification. However, employers expect to reverse this emphasis in three to five years. More than half (53 percent) say they plan to measure employee behavior change and/or behavioral modification in the next three to five years.

Read the full article here.

Using Motivational Interviewing to Elicit Behavior Change
A health coach's use of motivational interviewing (MI) can pave the way to a partnership resulting in an individual's behavior change, explains Kristin S. Vickers Douglas, Ph.D., L.P., a clinical health psychologist at the Mayo Clinic and medical director of its EmbodyHealth coaching program. Frequently called upon to employ MI in her practice as well as train health coaches in the technique, Dr. Vickers Douglas describes the dimensions of MI and its value in determining and reacting to an individual's readiness to change.

Listen to podcast here.

New Chart: What's An Average Health Coaching Case Load?

With health coaching frequently prescribed to alleviate chronic disease attributed to lifestyle factors like smoking, poor eating habits and physical inactivity, we wanted to see how many cases per month the average health coach is asked to manage.

Click here to view the chart.

Requirements for Health Coaching Programs

Question: In order of importance, which processes must be in place prior to launching a comprehensive on-site health coaching program — engagement, computer systems, a Web platform, communication, incentives?

Response: The first thing is to have a culture of wellness present within the organization. If there’s a culture of wellness, the entire coaching program will be more effective and more successful in the long term. Next, I would recommend a Web platform — the ability to identify engagement. Through technology, you need the ability to identify, stratify and drive the engagement appropriately. Incentives are next, followed by the communication of all of the different programs and the reasons why they’re important to them.

(Jennifer Hidding, former director of interactive health management of consumer solutions at OptumHealth.)

Learn more about effective health coaching programs.

HCH Readers Save 10% on Coaching Resource

2010 Benchmarks in Healthcare Case Management: Responsibilities, Results & ROI provides actionable information from 187 healthcare organizations on the placement and responsibilities of case managers and the impact case management has on healthcare utilization, cost and compliance. This exclusive report analyzes the responses to HIN's December 2009 Industry Survey on Healthcare Case Management, presenting the data in more than 40 easy-to- follow graphs and tables.

HealthCoach Huddle subscribers should use ordering code HCH to purchase this product at a special price!

Get more information on healthcare case management benchmarks.

Changing Lives with Lifestyle Management: Taking the Pulse of Population Health Programs

Numerous healthcare organizations are launching lifestyle management programs for individuals with life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. This executive summary provides the general character of more than 60 such initiatives, including the differing approaches and techniques in identification, treatment and outcome assessment.

Download complimentary white paper here.



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