One-on-one telephone health coaching is gaining popularity. Case in point: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention has implemented a version of telephone lifestyle coaching to address some of the health issues many veterans are currently experiencing. In fact, a randomized control trial titled “A Coaching by Telephone Intervention for Veterans and Care Team Engagement” (ACTIVATE), was born out of the health issues veterans were facing related to diet and lifestyle (1). The study’s purpose was to determine the effectiveness of telephone lifestyle coaching.
Researchers in the ACTIVATE study posited many illnesses and deaths can be attributed to preventable lifestyle risk factors such as overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and tobacco use. Consequently, the goal of the study was to test the effectiveness of including telephone coaching as an additional component to health risk assessments typically conducted in healthcare systems when designing lifestyle change interventions (1). Results from the study benefited the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) TLC program. The program targets 6 lifestyle behaviors, effectively facilitating positive health change outcomes through various prevention interventions (2).
Additionally, a gender-specific study conducted by Aoun, Osseiran-Moisson, Shahid, Howat, and O’Connor (3) assessed the feasibility of telephone lifestyle coaching on males. After one year, results indicated significant improvements in lifestyle risk modification. Coaching sessions averaged 20 minutes following the first session of 30 minutes. Barriers to participants remaining consistent during the study included work commitments, certain physical issues like cancer, as well as lack of motivation.
Lastly, another study regarding telephone lifestyle coaching effectiveness conducted by McGill, O’Hara, and Phongsavan (4) indicates coach support is a valued characteristic of the participant experience. Using qualitative semi-structured interviews, they determined that coach-supported participant involvement was satisfying despite high attrition rates. To improve participant engagement, increased follow-up flexibility along with other communication methods such as text messaging was recommended. Adopting similar communication methods may be helpful to AAHWC if considering telephone lifestyle coaching.
Seventh-day Adventists recognize lifestyle coaching as a significant facet of Christ’s healing method. His form of coaching was designed to meet the needs of the people prior to encouraging them to follow Him. Lifestyle coaching, including telephone lifestyle coaching, is effective and valuable because it exemplifies health reform as a strategy toward advancing the ‘right arm’ of the gospel through the third angel’s message (5). Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as lifestyle coaches and disciples to follow in Christ’s footsteps and encourage those with whom we interact to live a healthy lifestyle worthy of the merits of His grace (2 Corinthians 13:14).
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”