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As a practitioner, you might be curious about working with a health coach but have some questions:

  • What exactly do health coaches do?


  • How will a health coach fit into my practice?


  • I already have so little time on my hands, will this take even more time out of my day?

The resources below aim to answer some of these questions for you.

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"Health coaches are experts on human behavior, motivation, and health. They are 'change agents' who help their clients set and achieve health goals and build new habits."

— Kresser Institute

Journal and Newspaper Articles on Health Coaches' Efficacy 

Harvard Health Publishing: Health coaching is effective. Should you try it?

"Coaching is effective for people managing a variety of health conditions. According to a recent study, coaching “results in clinically relevant improvements in multiple biomarker risk factors (including systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and cardiorespiratory fitness) in diverse populations.”"

JAMA Internal Medicine: Coaching patients On Achieving Cardiovascular Health (COACH): A Multicenter Randomized Trial in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease

"Coaching delivered according to The COACH Program by hospital-based coaches resulted in a 14-mg/dL (0.36-mmol/L) greater reduction in total cholesterol (TC) levels than did usual care. In addition, The COACH Program achieved substantial improvements in blood pressure; body weight; BMI; dietary intake of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and fiber; and self-reported walking for exercise, well-being, mood, symptoms of chest pain, and breathlessness in patients with CHD 6 months after hospitalization….This outcome suggests that education alone to improve the process toward risk reduction, without any attempt to monitor patient progress toward the treatment goal, is insufficient to achieve risk factor reduction."

Patient Education and Counseling: The effects of health coaching on adult patients with chronic diseases: a systematic review

The results of this review were very encouraging. They indicated that health coaching has positive effects on adults with chronic diseases…The results indicate that health coaching produces positive effects on patients’ physiological, behavioral and psychological conditions and on their social life. In particular, statistically significant results revealed better weight management, increased physical activity and improved physical and mental health status.

Patient Education and Counseling: Does health coaching change patients’ trust in their primary care provider?

"Results from the current study suggest that health coaches may increase patients’ trust in their PCPs. This finding is reassuring as we move toward a more team-based approached to primary care…Clinicians should be reassured that working with health coaches does not appear to compromise, and may in fact enhance, their relationships with their patients. Adding a health coach to the care team should be considered as a way to increase patient trust and satisfaction."

The New York Times: We Could All Use a Health Coach

“The doctor may tell a patient ‘eat less, exercise more, take your medicine and come back in three months,’ but not how to execute this plan,” said Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle… Even if doctors had more time, he said, they’re not taught — and few know how — to motivate patients to make changes that would improve their health.

Dr. Russell S. Phillips, director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, told me, “Health coaching should be an integral part of primary care. It helps patients better manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension and improves outcomes… As a primary care doctor… I’m focused on diagnosis, treatment and a lot of other medical issues. It’s great to have health coaches available to help patients make needed changes and sustain them over time.”

Families, Systems and Health: Clinician Perspectives on Working With Health Coaches: A Mixed Methods Approach

"Compared to usual care patients, clinicians rated visits with health-coached patients as less demanding (2.44 vs. 3.06, p < .001) and were more likely to feel that they had adequate time with their patient (3.96 vs. 3.57, p < .001)… Through developing a rapport with patients over time and working with patients between medical visits, health coaches (a) empower patients by offering self-management support, (b) bridge communication gaps between clinicians and patients, (c) assist patients in navigating the health care system, and (d) act as a point of contact for patients."

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