Monash University, together with the Australian Psychological Society and Peking University, has established a motivational coaching program in the Fengtai District in Beijing, China to help patients with diabetes lead happier and healthier lives.
The Happy Life Club uses clinical coaches trained in motivational interviewing to support patients with chronic diabetes to better manage their illness.
Many illnesses including diabetes require a patient to modify their behaviour to manage their illness better. In the case of diabetes, research shows that changes in lifestyle factors such as dietary changes, weight loss, and reducing stress frequently result in major improvements in the health and wellbeing of a patient.
Motivational interviewing is a proven technique that has been used internationally in managing people who are addicted to smoking. However there is limited published research on how effective the technique is for the management of chronic illness.
Australian project leader Professor Colette Browning from the School of Primary Health Care Research said diabetes, if left untreated or poorly managed, could have a major effect on the health and wellbeing of a patient.
"Many patients can manage their disease well by adopting certain key behaviours but struggle to do so without support," Professor Browning said.
"People typically go through set stages in their behaviour change process. The Happy Life Club uses these stages of change to accelerate and sustain behaviour change."
Twenty-one Beijing health coach clinicians have been recently trained in motivational interviewing and health behaviour change principles by Dr Lindner from the Australian Psychological Society. These coaches will work with the patients to change key behaviours.
Project analyst Professor Shane Thomas said the program’s success would be measured through patient data collected pre-program and at three, six, twelve and twenty-four month intervals.
"During the course of the program, patients and coaches will also be interviewed to gauge their ideas about the program and how it can be improved for future trials," Professor Thomas said.
"If the Happy Life Club is a success it will be expanded to many other areas in China. We also will trial the technique with patients with cardiovascular disease."
The Happy Life Club is currently being trialled in Fangzhuang Community Hospital.
(Source: Monash University: June 2009)