Health & Wellness Coaching
As a result of the healthcare crisis, the increasing problem of too few doctors and medical practitioners, and collapsing healthcare systems coupled with the burden of rising healthcare costs employers have turned to wellness coaching, a holistic behavioral health intervention designed to help clients/coachees attain wellness-promoting goals across a wide range of areas. These coaches may be medical practitioners or may be people with specialist knowledge in the domain of mental and physical health and wellness. These expert and niche specialist practitioners can have a tangible impact on health, wellbeing, and organizational bottom-lines. In one study, medical claims data from 300 coached participants were compared with 964 noncoached employees. Differences in current and projected healthcare costs and indicators of patient engagement with the healthcare system were examined. The results of this study indicated that the coached participants saw a short-term (temporary) increase in current and projected healthcare costs and other indicators of patient engagement with health and wellness and associated practitioner use. Furthermore, indicators of patient engagement mediated the relationship between coaching participation and healthcare cost outcomes. This means that there was good evidence suggesting that people's healthcare costs were rising because these individuals were actively engaged in health and wellness coaching. Perhaps most important of all, over the long-run, current and projected healthcare costs decreased whereas indicators of patient engagement remained the same. This shows that people's heath behaviours were paying off and yielding long-term dividends for the organizations and individuals involved in the coaching process. Health and wellness coaching seems to be a beneficial intervention that improves health and saves employers money on healthcare expenditures down the road.
Health and Wellness coaching may be integrated with personal or life coaching to take a more holistic approach to health. This form of integrated coaching is often a behavioral intervention to help clients attain wellness-promoting goals to change lifestyle-related behaviors across a range of areas, including physical activity, nutrition, weight, stress, and life satisfaction among other things.
There is an emerging consensus in the working definition of health and wellness coaching - it is a patient-centered process that is based upon behavior change theory and is delivered by professionals with diverse backgrounds but predominantly among the health professional domain. The actual coaching process entails goal-setting determined by the patient, encourages self-discovery in addition to content education, and incorporates mechanisms for developing accountability in health behaviors.
The Benefits of Health & Wellness Coaching
Several studies have concluded that traditional health coaching leads to improved behavioral and health outcomes (e.g., Cinar, Freeman, & Schou, 2017; McGonagle, Beatty, & Joffe, 2014; Rehman, Karpman, Vickers Douglas, & Benzo, 2017; Willard-Grace et al., 2015)
Other research shows that wellness coaching is associated with improvements in a variety of outcomes including mental well-being, physical activity, physical health, self-efficacy, medication adherence, and goal attainment, and more! (e.g., Ammentorp, Thomsen, & Kofoed, 2013; Galantino et al., 2009; Izumi et al., 2007; Mettler et al., 2014; Schneider et al., 2011; Wolever et al., 2010).
Moreover, Lawson and colleagues (2013) conducted a study of high-risk health plan enrollees who had participated in a telephonic wellness coaching program. Their research found that:
- 89% of participants met at least one of their wellness goals
- There were significant improvements to participants’ stress levels
- Improvements in healthy eating behaviour
- Increased exercise levels
- Increased physical and emotional health
- They found that coachees increased their level of engagement with the healthcare system following the wellness coaching intervention.
Fedesco, H. N., Collins, W. B., & Morgan, M. (2018). Investigating the effects of an employee wellness coaching intervention on patient engagement and healthcare costs. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 1–21. doi:10.1080/15555240.2018.1486201
What is Evidence-Based Coaching and Why is it Better?
The evidence-based movement has long historical roots and, truth be told, it all originates with the field of medicine. Beginning in the early days of medicine it was pretty much a free-for-all. Anyone could hang a shingle and claim they could treat everything from the sniffles to leprosy and none of these claims had to be backed up by any evidence what so ever. Many grifters and snake-oil peddlers ran amuck and swindled people out of their hard earned money. Not only were these people made poorer by the actions of these quack practitioners but, given the serious nature of conditions of health many people were harmed and died as a result of their poorly placed confidence. It wasn't until the 1900s that medical doctors (as we know them) even made it on the scene and it was even later still that evidence was used to back up claims and provide confidence in medicine as a practice.
In short, evidence has the capacity to inform us to make better decisions. Whether the decision is to go with a specific coach or medical practitioner over another or to pursue a set of goals or to risk undertaking a medical procedure in order to be well again, better informed decisions generally lead to better outcomes. Like evidence-based medicine, evidence-based coaching offers a more transparent and better informed path for both you (as a coachee) and your coach (as a practitioner) to make the best informed decisions to lead to your development.
In today's medical context, the term “evidence-based” refers to the most critical and thoughtful use of the best available knowledge in making decisions. Evidence is responsible for nearly every marvel that modern medicine has to provide. Evidence-based coaching is no different. Evidence-based coaching referrs to using evidence to deliver coaching to clients, in designing and teaching coach-training programs, and in the development of coaching materials and tools. The best knowledge is up-to-date information from relevant, valid research, theory and practice. It also takes into account relevant organizational data and all key stakeholders that may be impacted by decisions. However, because the existing academic coaching literature is still quite small, the best available knowledge is usually supplemented by (if not drawn directly from) the much more established literature in related fields.
The Four Domains of Knowledge Informing Evidence-Based Coaching
1. The Behavioural Sciences
2. Business and Management Sciences
3. Adult education - including workplace learning and development
and 4. philosophy.
The behavioural sciences happen to be where the vast majority of expert knowledge that informs coaching stems from. The behavioural sciences describe how people think, act, and feel and specific domains of the behavioural sciences - like organizational psychology, sports psychology, educational psychology, and counselling psychology - all describe this all through the lens of how this impacts people, their work, their performance, their success, and wellbeing.
As a great deal of coaching focuses on professional contexts (with both executives and nonexecutive clients) any coach working in these sorts of contexts should have a solid foundation of education and training in business and management in order to best understand and meet their clients’ needs. Similarly, when done in a corporate context, involving both a coachee and a corporate sponsoring entity, organisations increasingly require coaching to be explicitly linked to the business's bottom line or expected imperatives and (direct or indirect) outcomes.
Adult education, including learning and development, provide the critical theory and practice laying at the foundation of adult learning - also known as androgogy. The majority of coaching clients are adults. Research can inform what is both effective and ineffective where it comes to teaching and learning. Efforts should both be directed to their target demographic and make use of the vast bodies of evidence in the domain of adult education.
Philosophy is at the heart of many coaching issues, such as the nature of good corporate governance, business ethics, questions of self-identity and personal values. Coaches need to have well-developed critical thinking skills, the ability to analyse and reason from first principles, and the ability to construct arguments and hold robust and well-reasoned discussions.
All the coaches at Emovere and who work in partnership with Emovere are evidence-based. If you don't believe what they're saying about something, ask them. They will show you their evidence to back-up their claims. If you have strong evidence to suggest otherwise, feel free to have a discusion about it with them.