Health Behaviour Change

This article was written by Physiotherapist Jessica Anderson from On Track Physiotherapy (Special interests in promoting health and wellness in the Stroke and ABI population)

We all make decisions about our health every day but what makes us choose one thing over another?

One thing we see as Health Professionals is the many ways in which our patients choose to act when it comes to their health. With the incidence of chronic diseases increasing, our role as health professionals in facilitating health behaviour change has never been more important.

When it comes to making health behaviour changes, research shows that knowledge and motivation are not sufficient. An individual must be in a stage of readiness to change as well as having a good understanding of the barriers and facilitators likely to influence their success. People are part of a complex set of environments, relationships and personality traits. All of which offer multiple levels of influence

As Physiotherapists, we see our patients come back time and again having not done their exercises. Rather than labelling them as ‘non-compliant’, it may be more appropriate to find out WHY

Questions to ask when identifying barriers

  • What is important to YOU? What are your Priorities? What are your Values?
  • What are the costs of engaging in the behaviour vs not engaging? E.g. A smoker may feel the difficulties of quitting far outweigh the long term health benefits.
  • What barriers are stopping you from changing?
    • Social networks?
    • Cultural expectations?
    • Fear of failure?
    • Time
  • What will it take to help you overcome these barriers?

As health professionals we always want to deliver a service that is helping someone improve their health. It can be difficult when we cannot get the desired outcomes for both the patient and ourselves.

Establishing what Stage of Change our patient is in can ensure our intervention is targeted and relevant and ensures efficient use of resources.

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