Limiting Factor For Behavior Change is We Don’t Believe We Will Change

One of the biggest challenges in healthcare is getting people to change behavior or as Express Scripts would frame it – activating intent.  Since approximately 75% of healthcare costs are due to preventable conditions, it’s important that we can help people see the future value of change.  People often discount that future value of change based on the amount of effort required to get there.  They see the short-term pain not the long-term gain.

A new study puts an interesting perspective on this.  It shows that people can generally see the amount of change they’ve made in the past decade, but they fail to realize that change will continue for the next decade.  They appear to see themselves as stable at the current moment without significant change in the future.  I believe this is really important as we think about Motivational Interviewing techniques and communications for engaging consumers.

So, as you think about behavior change in healthcare for things like diabetes, you will likely continue to see more and more emphasis on behavior change and research in this area (see example from RWJF last year or Cigna whitepaper).

To learn more about this topic of behavior economics, you might look a few places:

And, here’s a good list of books to start with.

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2 Responses to “Limiting Factor For Behavior Change is We Don’t Believe We Will Change”

  1. George, thanks for sharing this blog. As a long-time fan of the TV show The Biggest Loser, it’s clear that one of the biggest hurdles these weight-loss contestants face is to believe they can change–their behavior, their diet, their belief systems. In last night’s episode, one team was “sent” to a torture chamber of sorts, a “vault” of food and video games, for 4.5 hours a day. While the team did not eat the food, it slipped right back into one of the behaviors that put them in their current position–lack of movement. Initially they sat around, and even napped, instead of leveraging the space to come up with a different form of exercise. It’s clear that as we attempt to tackle preventable diseases in this country to lower healthcare costs and improve outcomes, we must help people understand the importance of changing their behaviors.

    • Thanks. I’m a big fan of The Biggest Loser also. I was surprised that they never saw a way to convert that room into a workout room, but that might have been the rules. You see this issue of being able to change in all of the people on the show.

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