Delivery of Health Coaching by Medical Assistants in Primary Care

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Abstract

Background:

Health coaching is potentially a practical method to assist patients in achieving and maintaining healthy lifestyles. In health coaching, the coach partners with the patient, helping patients discover their own strengths, challenges, and solutions.

Methods:

Two medical assistants were provided with brief training. The 12-week program consisted of telephone coaching with in-person visits at the beginning and end of the program. Coaching targeted improvements in diet, physical activity, and/or sleep habits using a self-care planning form.

Results:

A total of 82 subjects enrolled in the program, 72% completed 8 weeks and 49% completed 12 weeks. Subjects who completed assessments at 12 weeks had significant weight loss despite the fact that weight loss was not a study goal. There also were improvements in diet and physical activity. Subject who completed the study were highly satisfied with the program and felt that health coaching should be available in all family medicine clinics. The main barrier providers voiced was remembering to refer patients. The medical providers indicated high satisfaction with the study and valued having coaching available for their patients.

Conclusions:

Medical assistants can be trained to assist patients with lifestyle changes that are associated with improved health and weight control.

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