During your initial education session with a patient, what is your main focus? Do you have a checklist of requirements you have to make sure you address? Do you have a series of questions you ask to satisfy your needs or the needs of your practice? Or, do you ask questions to determine what the patient’s needs and concerns really are? Health coaches use every patient encounter to learn more about what makes the patient ‘tick’ so that he or she can use this information to help guide the patient’s behavioral changes and treatment plan in the future.
The key is understanding that the patient’s agenda may be dramatically different from his or her own agenda (Miller, 2011). Some common questions to use during your initial educational session could be:
“What is most important to you about your condition? Your health?”
“What concerns you the most about your condition?”
“What concerns you most about the proposed treatment plan discussed with you?”
“What would you like to change the most regarding your condition? Your treatment plan?” (Miller, 2011, p. 500).
During this educational session, be aware of whatever concerns and beliefs the patient expresses, because “beliefs and attitudes about self or a situation are the motivation underlying most human action (Rollnick, Miller & Butler, 2008). If you are not discovering the patient’s concerns, beliefs and personal agenda, it will be much more difficult for you to motivate the patient to change his or her health behaviors (Miller, 2011).
Miller, C. (2011). An Integrated Approach to Worker Self-Management and Health Outcomes: Chronic Conditions,
Evidence-Based Practice, and Health Coaching. Workplace Health & Safety, 59(11), 491-501.
Rollnick, S., Miller, W. R., & Butler, C. C. (2008). Motivational interviewing in healthcare: Helping patients change
behavior. New York, NY: Guilford Press