Health coaches have grown in popularity, yet empirical support is limited. In the health coach treatment model, health coaches supplement treatment by providing ongoing support, accountability and information to promote behavior change between treatment visits. Health coaches can be professional health care providers, such as nurses or social workers; peers, or individuals currently facing the same health problem who coach one another to support behavior change; and mentors, or master coaches, who have previously and successfully faced the same health situation.
In this randomized controlled pilot study, 44 participants took part in a group behavioral weight loss program that met for 12 times over the course of 24 weeks half the amount of sessions of a traditional treatment plan. Groups met weekly for the first six weeks, biweekly for the following six weeks and monthly thereafter.
Miriam researchers randomly assigned individuals to work with one of three different types of health coaches: a professional (behavioral weight loss interventionist), peer (a fellow group member) or mentor (a successful weight loser). During the weeks where there were no group meetings, participants emailed their weekly weight, calorie and physical activity information to their coach and received feedback. All coaches were trained on appropriate coaching strategies and feedback delivery.
While all three groups yielded clinically significant weight losses, participants guided by professional and peer coaches had the most success, losing more than 9 percent of their body weight on average, compared to just under 6 percent in the mentor group. At least half of the participants in the professional and peer coaching groups achieved a 10 percent weight loss, which research has shown can reduce the risk of a wide range of illnesses linked to obesity, including heart disease and diabetes. Only 17 percent of those in the men
|Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes|