Patients Benefit from Interventions to Change Their Behaviors

Using managed care to facilitate health-related behavior change

The Center for the Advancement of Health conducted a study of the availability and integration of health behavior change programs in managed care.

The study focused on four leading behavioral risk factors (smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy dietary habits, and misuse of alcohol and/or other drugs) and five conditions that are among the leading causes of US morbidity and mortality (asthma, back pain, cardiovascular disease, depression, and diabetes).

Key Findings

The Center published the study's complete findings in a series of 13 reports that were disseminated via its Web site, and other vehicles. Key findings include:

  • Behavior change interventions delivered in health care settings yield positive outcomes for patients but their overall economic impact is not clear, except in the case of smoking cessation.
  • The role of the primary care provider in encouraging behavior change is critical.
  • Most health plans offer some services to help members change behaviors; however, services to manage chronic conditions are more widely available than are services to reduce risky behaviors.
  • Health care purchasers (private employers, state government, and unions) understand and value the role behavior plays in health but most do not feel they have much leverage or ability to negotiate for the type and quality of services offered by health plans.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $374,133 from November 1997 to October 1999 to support the study.

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