The impact of telephonic health coaching on health outcomes in a high-risk population

Karen L. Lawson, Yvonne Jonk, Heidi O'Connor, Kirsten Sundgaard Riise, David M. Eisenberg, Mary Jo Kreitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Health coaching is a client-centric process to increase motivation and self-efficacy that supports sustainable lifestyle behavior changes and active management of health conditions. This study describes an intervention offered as a benefit to health plan members and examines health and behavioral outcomes of participants. Methods: High-risk health plan enrollees were invited to participate in a telephonic health coaching intervention addressing the whole person and focusing on motivating health behavior changes. Outcomes of self-reported lifestyle behaviors, perceived health, stress levels, quality of life, readiness to make changes, and patient activation levels were reported at baseline and upon program completion. Retrospectively, these data were extracted from administrative and health coaching records of participants during the first 2 full years of the program. Results: Less than 7% of the 114 615 potential candidates self-selected to actively participate in health coaching, those with the highest chronic disease load being the most likely to participate. Of 6940 active participants, 1082 fully completed pre- and post- health inventories, with 570 completing Patient Activation Measure (PAM). The conditions most often represented in the active participants were depression, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, osteoporosis, asthma, and low back pain. In 6 months or less, 89% of participants met at least one goal. Significant improvements occurred in stress levels, healthy eating, exercise levels, and physical and emotional health, as well as in readiness to make change and PAM scores. Discussion: The types of clientselected goals most often met were physical activity, eating habits, stress management, emotional health, sleep, and pain management, resulting in improved overall quality of life regardless of condition. Positive shifts in activation levels and readiness to change suggest that health coaching is an intervention deserving of future prospective research studies to assess the utilization, efficacy, and potential cost-effectiveness of health coaching programs for a range of populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Advances In Health and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic disease
  • Health coaching
  • Patient activation measure
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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