New guide to empower health professionals to help patients make lasting lifestyle changes | World Obesity Federation

New guide to empower health professionals to help patients make lasting lifestyle changes

Members AreaNew guide to empower health professionals to help patients make lasting lifestyle changes

A new guide, Changing behaviours, has been launched by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). The guide will support health professionals to have effective conversations with patients and clients about healthy lifestyle choices.

WCRF’s guide provides health professionals with listening and communication techniques to facilitate conversations with their patients. The guide also includes real life examples and activities to complete.

The launch of the guide follows a recent survey carried out by the cancer prevention charity that shows over 9 in 10 members of their health professionals network want to learn more about behaviour change and need more practical examples to be able to help their patients.

Although two thirds of people want to be healthier, this information does not necessarily translate into behaviour change as 64 per cent of adults in England are overweight or obese. This is partly due to a mix of environmental and social factors, but how health information is delivered also plays a crucial role in changing unhealthy habits.

The guide will be part of the charity’s cancer prevention package, which includes various informative resources for health professionals to use with their patients. Changing Behaviours will be the guide to support them deliver information to empower their patients to make lasting lifestyle changes. 

Sidonie Sakula-Barry, one of the authors and behaviour change lead at World Cancer Research Fund, said: 

"Encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices can be difficult, and a lot of health professionals who use our resources would like to receive more practical guidance on how to approach these conversations with their patients and clients. 

“That’s why we have consulted with behaviour change specialists and health professional representatives to create a guide. It will help health professionals guide their conversations about behaviour change in a way that includes and encourages their patients and clients to make lasting changes”.

Diarmuid Duggan, senior dietitian from Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, Ireland, said:

“As health professionals we often refer to our interventions as being patient or client centred. However, in practice, we find ourselves becoming frustrated with a perceived lack of change as we revert back to the old adage of trying to “fix” our patients.

“This new resource from World Cancer Research Fund recognises that change needs to come from within and not be imposed. I welcome this resource to help us as health professionals facilitate our patients and clients to help meet their own behaviour change goals”.

Karan Thomas, behaviour change specialist, Director of Health Development Consultancy, who worked on the guide, said:

“In a brief interaction, it’s difficult to know whether the information you give patients is having an impact. Sometimes it can be hard to find the right words to start a conversation about someone’s health choices. 

“This guide will help you make every contact count by giving practical tips on how to raise the issue of lifestyle changes with your adult patients and clients, which will help facilitate their behaviour change”.