What Are Some Key Elements in Motivating Clients to Improve Health Behaviors and Outcomes?
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In all of healthcare, but especially in chronic disease management, it is important for patients to be active participants in their own wellness journey. Patients are the sole drivers of health behavior change, care management activities, and medication adherence. And while some patients may be intrinsically motivated to improve their health, others may require provider encouragement.
Prompting patients to use safe sex practices and to use contraception more consistently also has been achieved through motivational interviewing techniques. Communication with patients that indicates sensitivity and empathy is an approach used successfully by obstetrician–gynecologists. Whereas the traditional manner by which physicians give advice often is enough to motivate some patients to adopt more healthy behaviors, advice alone has little impact for those engaged in risky health behaviors. This resistance to change may be associated with the patient’s misunderstanding of the connection between the activity and the health risk. The resistance also may be associated with minimizing the risk, valuing a social connection associated with the behavior, or even addiction. Evidence suggests that motivational interviewing is one technique that can be used to break through this resistance and achieve behavior change within the constraints of an active clinical practice. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourages the use of motivational interviewing as one effective approach to elicit behavior change.
As such, exerting conscious control to override these strong neural relations between cue and action is difficult and requires considerable cognitive resources and motivation.
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