Chronic health conditions are predominant in the USA. Health coaching has demonstrated significant results in increasing health-promotion behaviors that impact the development or progression of chronic health conditions (Simmons & Wolever, 2011). Behavior analysis has also contributed to this body of research with effective behavior-change procedures (Allen & Hine, 2015). While often not cited, the methodology used in health coaching utilizes many principles that align with applied behavior analysis. The current paper serves several purposes: (1) introduces health coaching and the potential for application within a behavior analytic framework, (2) discusses commonalities and areas behavior analysis could impact, (3) suggests implications for future research and practice, and finally, (4) urges collaboration between behavior analysts, health coaches, physicians and other professionals practicing within fields that focus on improving individual health and healthcare.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allen, K. D., Barone, V. J., & Kuhn, B. R. (1993). A behavioral prescription for promoting applied behavior analysis within pediatrics. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 493–502.
Allen, K. D., & Hine, J. F. (2015). ABA applications in the prevention and treatment of medical problems. In H. S. Roane, J. E. Ringdahl, & T. S. Falcomata (Eds.), Clinical and organization applications of applied behavior analysis (pp. 95–124). Waltham, MA: Academic Press/Elsevier.
Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91–97.
Caldwell, K. L., Gray, J., & Wolever, R. Q. (2013). The process of empowerment in integrative health coaching. How does it happen? Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 48–57. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2013.026.
Calloway Rankins, N. (2016) Your patient should get a health coach. Here’s why. Medpage Today’s KevinMD.com. Retrieved from http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/05/your-patient-should-get-a-health-coach-heres-why.html
Chronic Diseases: The Leading Causes of Death and Disability in the United States (2016, February 23). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/
Clark, M., & Hampson, S. E. (2001). Implementing a psychological intervention to improve lifestyle self-management in patients with type 2 diabetes. Patient Education and Counseling, 42, 247–256.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Dallery, J., Kurti, A., & Erb, P. (2015). A New frontier: Integrating behavioral and digital technology to promote health behavior. Behavior Analyst, 38, 19–49.
Donaldson, J. M., & Normand, M. P. (2009). Using goal setting, self-monitoring, and feedback to increase calorie expenditure in obese adults. Behavioral Interventions, 24, 73–83.
Friman, P. C. (2010). Come on in, the water is fine: Achieving mainstream relevance through integration with primary medical care. Behavior Analyst, 33, 19–3.
Jones, H., Edwards, L., Vallis, T. M., Ruggiero, L., Rossi, S., Rossi, J. S., Greene, G., Prochaska, J. O., & Zinman, B. (2003). Changes in diabetes self care behaviours make a difference in glycemic control. Diabetes Care, 26, 732–737.
Kivela, K., Elo, S., Kyngas, H., & Kaariainen, M. (2014). The effects of health coaching on adult patients with chronic diseases: a systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 97(2), 147–157.
Kurti, A. N., & Dallery, J. (2013). Internet-based contingency management increases walking in sedentary adults. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46, 568–581.
Lawson, K. L., Jonk, Y., O’Conner, H., Riise, K. S., Eisenberg, D. M., & Kreitzer, M. J. (2013). The impact of telephonic health coaching on health outcomes on a high risk population. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 40–7. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2013.039.
Lindner, H., Menzies, D., Kelly, J., Taylor, S., & Shearer, M. (2003). Coaching for behaviour change in chronic disease: A review of the literature and the implications for coaching as a self-management intervention. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 9(2/3), 177–185.
Losing Weight (2015, May 15). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/
Martin, G., & Hrycaiko, D. (1983). Effective behavioral coaching: What’s it all about? Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5, 8–20.
Normand, M. P. (2008). Increasing physical activity through self-monitoring, goal setting, and feedback. Behavioral Interventions, 23, 227–236.
Normand, M. P., & Kohn, C. S. (2013). Don’t wag the dog: Extending the reach of applied behavior analysis. Behavior Analyst, 36, 109–122.
Normand, M. P., & Osborne, M. R. (2010). Promoting healthier food choices in college students using individualized dietary feedback. Behavioral Interventions, 25, 183–190.
Obesity and Overweight (2016, June 16). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.html
Olsen, J.M. & Nesbitt, B.J. (2010). Health coaching to improve healthy lifestyle behaviors: an integrative review. American Journal of Health Promotion, e1–e12. doi:10.4278/ajhp.090313-LIT-101
Poling, A. (2010). Looking to the future: Will behavior analysis survive and prosper? Behavior Analyst, 33, 7–17.
Seniuk, H. A., Witts, B. N., Williams, L. W., & Ghezzi, P. M. (2013). Behavioral coaching. Behavior Analyst, 36, 167–172.
Sharma, A.E., Willard-Grace, R., Hessler, D., Bodenheimer, T., Thom, D.H. (2016). What happens after health coaching? Observational study 1 year following a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Family Medicine, vol. 14 (no. 3) 200–207. doi: 10.1370/afm.1924 Retrieved from http://www.annfammed.org/content/14/3/200
Simmons, L. A., & Wolever, R. Q. (2011). Health coaching: Research summary (report). Durham, NC: Duke Integrative Medicine / Duke University Health System.
Simmons, L. A., & Wolever, R. Q. (2013). Integrative health coaching and motivational interviewing: Synergistic approaches to behavior change in health care. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(4), 28–35. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2013.037.
Simmons, L. A., Wolever, R. Q., Bechard, E. M., & Snyderman, R. (2014). Patient engagement as a risk factor in personalized healthcare: a systematic review of the literature on chronic disease. Genome Medicine, 6(2), 16. doi:10.1186/gm533.
Skinner B. F. (1987). Upon further reflection. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall; Why we are not acting to save the world; pp. 1–14.
Skinner B. F. Why we are not acting to save the world. (1982, August). Paper presented at the 90th annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
Smith, L. L., Lake, N. H., Simmons, L. A., Perlman, A., Wroth, S., & Wolever, R. Q. (2013). Integrative health coach training: A model for shifting the paradigm toward patient-centricity and meeting new national prevention goals. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 66–74. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2013.034.
The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity (2015, June 5). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html.
Van Camp, C. M., & Hayes, L. B. (2012). Assessing and increasing physical activity. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45, 871–875.
VanWormer, J. (2004). Pedometers and brief e-counseling: increasing physical activity for overweight adults. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 421–425.
Welcome to the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches (2015, Fall). Retrieved from http://www.ncchwc.org/.
Winett, R. A. (1995). A framework for health promotion and disease prevention programs. American Psychologist, 50, 341–350.
Wolever, R.Q., Dreusicke, M.H. (2016). Integrative health coaching: a behavior skills approach that improves HbA1c and pharmacy claims-derived medication adherence. BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, 4 (1), doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2016-000201
Wolever, R. Q., Dreusicke, M.H., Fikkan, J.L., Hawkins, T.V., Yeung, S.Y., Wakefield, J., Duda, L., Flowers, P., Cook, C., & Skinner, E. (2010). Integrative health coaching for patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Educator, 36(4). doi: 10.1177/0145721710371523
Wolever, R. Q., Simmons, L. A., Sforzo, G. A., Dill, D., Kaye, M., Bechard, E. M., et al. (2013). A systematic review of the literature on health and wellness coaching: defining a Key behavioral intervention in healthcare. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(4), 38–57.
Conflict of Interest
One of the authors is employed by Vida Health as a coach lead and participated as a health coach in the unpublished study mentioned in the manuscript. No financial incentives were provided for participation in the study beyond pay for services as an employee, and no financial incentives were offered for submitting the manuscript for publication.
About this article
Cite this article
Finn, H.E., Watson, R.A. The Use of Health Coaching to Improve Health Outcomes: Implications for Applied Behavior Analysis. Psychol Rec 67, 181–187 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-017-0241-4
- Health coaching
- Behavior analysis
- Chronic health conditions
- Individual feedback