Study Identifies 5 Strategies to Spark Patient Motivation

A study reported in Annals of Family Medicine identified five promising strategies that may help physicians with patient motivation to influence them to make health-enhancing changes.  The five strategies reported by the top-performing physicians were emphasizing that patients own their own health; partnering with patients; identifying small steps to improve health; scheduling frequent follow-up visits to cheer successes and solve problems; and showing care and concern.   The researchers will conduct a follow-up study of a larger sample with a goal of developing training for clinicians.

The strategies show promise in supporting patient activation, which has been shown to be associated with outcomes including better self-management and clinical indicators, fewer hospitalizations and lower health care costs.

The study, "Supporting Patient Behavior Change: Approaches Used by Primary Care Clinicians Whose Patients Have an Increase in Activation Levels," defined patient activation as having the knowledge, confidence and skills to take care of one's health and health care.

Using data from an accountable care organization, researchers aggregated data on change in the patient activation measure (PAM) scores for 7,144 patients to the primary care clinician level. The patients all had two PAM scores between 2010 and 2012, and were chosen based on their baseline scores being below the highest of four levels of scores.

Researchers ranked clinicians based on the change in their patients' scores. They then conducted in-depth interviews with 10 of the clinicians whose patients' scores increased the most and 10 of those whose patients' scores increased the least. The interview transcripts were analyzed to look for strategies the clinicians used to support patient lifestyle behavior change.

"We found the top-performing clinicians most frequently reported using five strategies when they worked with patients on behavior change," lead researcher Jessica Greene, Ph.D., associate dean for research and a professor at the George Washington University School of Nursing, told AAFP News.

Read full article  from AAFP news here.   Original research study( published in the March/April issue of Annals of Family Medicine.