Saturday, December 3, 2011

Family Medicine and Personal Health: Habits

Now I have this habit of writing daily since participating in the National Health Blog Post Month Challenge from WEGO Health.  Word is that it takes 3 weeks or so to develop a habit.  In health care, we see and/or hear about lots of habits from our patients.  Many of the habits are very positive health behaviors and many are negative health behaviors.  How do we address the habits of our patients?

1.  Honor them for something whenever possible with precise behavioral language that has meaning to the patient.  "Your knees are hurting less because of the weight reduction you've achieved.  The four pound loss this month was enough to decrease some of the inflammation in the knee joints.  You are helping yourself.  Congratulations on developing new eating habits that helped you."

2.  Allow them to teach us about who they are, what they believe about health and why.  As they educate us about their uniqueness and their health beliefs and habits, we can better relate to their life and values and personalize health strategies for habit continuation or alteration.

3. Use self disclosure about our habits to the patient as appropriate to enhance the patient physician relationship and trust levels of the dyad.  "As appropriate" may take a while to accurately define, so some mistakes will be made.  Physicians are people, too, and our patients deserve to know it.

These behaviors help us to understand our habits and the habits of others, be they patients or physicians or both.

How do you relate to being asked about your health habits?

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