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Client Perspectives on Health Coaching: Insight for Improved Program Design

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Objective: In this paper, we examine client perspectives of health coaching programs and differences by insurance type. Methods: We used descriptive coding and directed content analysis to analyze semi-structured qualitative in-person interviews that assessed preferred health coach qualifications and experience, desirable attributes for coaches, and interest in having a coach. We recruited participants (N = 140 adults: 61 commercial insurance, 79 Medicaid) without consideration of prior health coaching experience. Results: Participants viewed physicians as the experts on health and valued coaches as supporters of behavior-change efforts that could take a patient's life context into account. Empathetic coaches were expected to motivate and hold patients accountable without taking too much time or being too "pushy." Participants preferred some in-person interaction and differed in preferences for program referral and enrollment approaches. Medicaid beneficiaries had less prior exposure to health coaching, more interest in having a coach, and preferred coaches to provide medical education. Conclusions: Irrespective of prior coaching experience or insurance type, participants agreed on many preferred characteristics of coaches and coaching programs. Understanding client preferences and expectations can help refine the role of health coaches, making them more effective and shaping the way they are presented to potential participants to enhance their appeal and use.
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Keywords: ATTITUDES; HEALTH PROMOTION; LIFESTYLE CHANGES; QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Washington University, Health Communication Research Lab, St. Louis, MO;, Email: [email protected] 2: Master's Research Fellow, Washington University, Health Communication Research Lab, St. Louis, MO 3: Research Assistant Professor, Washington University, Health Communication Research Lab, St. Louis, MO 4: Doctoral Candidate, Washington University, Health Communication Research Lab, St. Louis, MO 5: Communications Editor, Washington University, Health Communication Research Lab, St. Louis, MO 6: Professor, Washington University, Health Communication Research Lab, St. Louis, MO

Publication date: September 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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