Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New behavioral strategies may help patients learn to better control chronic diseases

Date:
November 27, 2012
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Summary:
Physicians should take a serious look at tools and strategies used in behavioral economics and social psychology to help motivate their patients to assert better control over chronic diseases. Breaking large goals into smaller, more manageable parts, for example, may help patients better manage diseases such as diabetes.

One of the most important health problems in the United States is the failure of patients with chronic diseases to take their medications and do all that is necessary to control their illnesses.

Related Articles


In a study published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, UCLA researchers and their colleagues suggest that physicians take a serious look at tools and strategies used in behavioral economics and social psychology to help motivate their patients to assert better control over chronic diseases. Breaking large goals into smaller, more manageable parts, for example, may help patients better manage diseases such as diabetes, the researchers say.

Diagnosing diseases and discovering effective treatments aren't the only challenges facing health care professionals in the United States, said Braden Mogler, the paper's lead author and a third-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

"One of the big challenges is simply finding ways to help the many patients with chronic diseases understand why treatment is important and how to follow it," Mogler said. "Many doctors often lack effective tools to encourage patients in these ways. There is a lot of research from the social sciences on human behavior and encouraging individual change, and this paper shows how that research can potentially be applied to doctor-patient interactions."

In the study, the researchers highlight the shortcomings of some approaches frequently used to try to get individuals to control their diseases, such as scaring patients, overwhelming them with technical information, and focusing on consequences that are far in the future.

They then identify several tools used by psychologists and behavioral economists that can change behavior but which have not been employed often in medical care, and suggest that research on such alternative approaches is an urgent need. These approaches include:

  • Helping patients form very specific plans to achieve their health goals -- for example, identifying the time when they will take their medicines, having them determine what they will do if their prescriptions run out and they don't have a doctor's appointment, and giving them a place to record whether they took the medicines.
  • Breaking big goals into smaller tasks that get patients to their ultimate goal step-by-step -- useful for goals like extreme weight loss, adhering to medication regimens and checking blood sugar every day, or exercising several times a week.
  • Using cash payments to patients as a motivator to get them on track but supplementing that with strategies that will increase their desire to stay healthy and live longer.

If studies show these techniques make a difference, they might improve health and decrease health care costs, said co-author Dr. Martin Shapiro, chief of the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Helping patients get their chronic diseases under control sometimes requires changing medications but mostly comes down to helping patients understand why treatment is important and how they can follow it in their busy lives," Shapiro said. "There is a lot of exciting research on how we can help people change to achieve their goals in other fields, and we believe translating those ideas to health care is an important next step in medical research."

The study's authors found that some of these techniques are being used to a limited degree in health care settings -- helping patients quit smoking by settling on an exact quit date, for instance, has proven more effective than speaking in general terms about quitting soon. Still, many other potentially effective techniques have not been studied in medical settings, and the authors stress the need for clinical trials to evaluate their effectiveness.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences. "New behavioral strategies may help patients learn to better control chronic diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094317.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences. (2012, November 27). New behavioral strategies may help patients learn to better control chronic diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094317.htm
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences. "New behavioral strategies may help patients learn to better control chronic diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094317.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins