The DO’s of Encouraging Patient Self-Efficacy

As a healthcare professional, you’re in a unique position to encourage your patients to change certain behaviors that pose a risk to their health, such as smoking cigarettes, heavy drinking or drug abuse. But what’s the best approach when there’s evidence that substance abuse is taking a toll on a patients’ health?

First, let’s review some improper assumptions regarding behavior change for patients.

  • This person ought to change.
  • This person wants to change.
  • This patient’s health is the prime motivating factor for him/her.
  • If he or she does not decide to change, the consultation has failed.
  • Patients are either motivated to change, or not.
  • I’m the expert. He or she must follow my advice.

Responsibilities of the Patient

substance abuse patient, gateway treatment centersTo encourage patient enlightenment, it’s important to take the necessary time to clarify sensible drinking guidelines and health risks posed by drug use that patients disclose. However, when it comes to addressing change itself, motivational interviewing (MI) is extremely useful. MI promotes self-efficacy by placing responsibility of change on the patients themselves rather than advising patients to change. Indeed, trying to convince patients to change can actually undermine their self-efficacy. The DO’s of encouraging patient self-efficacy during health interventions:

  • DO elicit patient’s own thoughts, feelings, ambivalence, and motivation to change.
  • DO refine and practice your listening skills.
  • DO roll with resistance rather than confronting or opposing it.
  • DO use open-ended questions, which require patients to think and reflect.
  • DO use affirming statements to promote self-efficacy and acknowledge personal challenges.
  • DO use reflections to communicate respect and clarify exactly what the patient means.
  • DO summarize at conclusion of conversation to reinforce what patients said and prepare them to move forward.

It can take weeks or months for a patient to decide professional treatment for substance abuse is best for them. When they are ready, Gateway Treatment Centers offer a free, confidential consultation to help adults and teens understand their personalized substance abuse treatment options.

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