Personality Mindsets in Health Behaviour Change

A MicroMass study in the US reveals that while disease symptoms and treatment vary widely among individuals with metabolic conditions, there are remarkable similarities in patients’ motivations to change behavior and the barriers that stand in their way. This ‘metabolic mindset’ offers a vital key to successfully motivating people to make difficult behavior changes.

Here are four types of metabolic patients, their percentage of the total study population, and suggested ways of motivating each:

Cruise Control (19%)
These patients follow their doctors’ orders and manage their conditions pretty well, but may not understand the seriousness of their disease or the value of treating it by changes in behavior. This makes them vulnerable to backsliding. Strong and repeated reinforcement is a must, using self-assessment tools that concretely demonstrate the benefits of behavior change.

Taking Charge (30%)
These patients know the risks of unhealthy behavior and actively avoid them. They don’t require intense investment or intervention by their physicians. Healthcare providers should engage these patients as advocates and invite them to share their expertise with other patients.

Disengaged (20%)
This group is highly susceptible to setbacks because they feel that improving their condition is beyond their control. Healthcare providers should applaud each small success with these patients and allow them to choose which behaviors to work on, one at a time. They should also plan for relapses.

Overwhelmed (31%)
These patients want to change but don’t know how to start. It’s important to raise their self-confidence by giving information in easy-to-digest bites, creating step-by-step action plans focused on small goals, and acknowledging their successes.